As Austrian Capital Readies for ‘Al-Quds Day’ March, Anti-Fascist Activists Pledge to Confront ‘Antisemitic Agitation’
As pro-Iranian and Hezbollah demonstrators prepare for the annual “Al-Quds Day” march in Vienna on Saturday, anti-fascist activists in the Austrian capital are demanding that the government ban the event.
In a statement announcing a counter-demonstration at Saturday’s rally, a wide range of individuals and organizations slammed march participants for their consistent “antisemitic agitation” against “Jews and Israel.” In striking contrast to the rest of western Europe, most of the statements’ signatories came from socialist and Green political circles.
Noting that antisemitism was not the sole preserve of the extreme right, and that previous Al-Quds Day marches have been occasions for antisemitic placards and slogans, the statement called “upon all anti-Fascist politicians from the parliament and the municipal council as well as civil society to join our alliance and to position themselves clearly and unambiguously against the Al-Quds march!”
Among the signatories of the statement were Austrian parliamentarians Sigi Maurer and Albert Steinhauser of the Green Party and Petra Bayr of the SPO Socialist Party. The head of the Socialist Party’s section for the LGBT community, Peter Traschkowitsch, also signed. Several Jewish and pro-Israel groups added their names, including the Austria-Israel Friendship Society, the Labor Zionist Hashomer Hatzair and the Austrian branch of the women’s Zionist organization, WIZO. Other left-wing groups that endorsed the statement included the Communist Student Union of the Left.
One of the organizers of the statement told The Algemeiner that opponents of the Al-Quds Day march were determined that “hateful antisemitic ideology should never again be tolerated in the streets of this city.”
“The glorification of terrorism is against the law in Austria,” Stefan Schaden — a spokesperson for “Stop The Bomb,” an organization campaigning for democracy in Iran — said on Friday. “So how come that supporters of the Iranian regime and of Hezbollah can march for the annihilation of Israel in the center of Vienna?”
“For years we have demanded to ban Al-Quds Day,” Schaden added. “There must be a full ban on Hezbollah in Austria and in all of Europe, in order to effectively counter Iranian regime-sponsored terrorism.”
Schaden said that the Austrian government’s decision to adopt the definition of antisemitism endorsed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) — an inter-governmental organization — gave added impetus to calls for the Al-Quds Day march to be prohibited. “The definition includes antisemitism that is directed at the Jewish State of Israel, such as the denial of Israel’s right to exist,” Schaden said.
Previous Al-Quds Day demonstrations in Vienna have involved the display of Hezbollah flags — as occurred in London last weekend — as well as signs juxtaposing the Nazi swastika with a Star of David and inflammatory slogans describing Israel as the “Fourth Reich.”
One of the main organizers of the Vienna Al-Quds Day event is an Austrian convert to Islam — Erich Muhammad Waldmann, the imam of a leading Vienna mosque and a member of Austria’s Council of Imams.
Waldmann, who is said to have close links with the Iranian regime, was filmed at an Al-Quds Day march in 2015 calling for the destruction of the “Zionist regime.”