Austrian Jewish students disrupt minister’s speech calling government ‘not kosher’

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Austrian Jewish students disrupt minister’s speech calling government ‘not kosher’

Young people unfurled a banner criticising far-right People's Party leader Sebastian Kurz during an address by Education Minister Heinz Fassmann

Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz
Austria's chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Jewish students in Austria disrupted a Cabinet minister’s speech at a Vienna conference on anti-Semitism over the fact that the government includes politicians from the far-right Freedom Party.

On Wednesday, the students unfurled a banner reading “Mr. Kurz! Your government is not kosher!” during an address by Education Minister Heinz Fassmann. Sebastian Kurz, who heads the centre-right People’s Party, was elected chancellor in October. Two months later his party formed a coalition government with the Freedom Party, which former Nazis established in the 1950s.

The action triggered applause from the audience that had gathered in a University of Vienna auditorium to hear Fassman speak at the European Jewish Congress’ “An End to Anti-Semitism” conference this week in the Austrian capital. Ushers escorted the protesters out of the auditorium. Their banner carried the logo of an association of Jewish high school students.

Austrian Jews have boycotted the Freedom Party, citing a string of anti-Semitic and racist incidents involving its members and leaders. The party maintains it does not tolerate anti-Semitism. In November, its lawmakers in the parliament demonstratively refused to stand during a minute of silence for victims of the 1938 anti-Semitic pogroms in Austria.

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