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Austria bans Isis terror symbols

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Austria bans Isis terror symbols
Fighters from Isis near the border between Syria and Iraq. Photo: EPA/ALBARAKA NEWS/HANDOUT
23:44 CEST+02:00
Following closely on the heels of Germany, Austria has announced a forthcoming ban on terrorism-related symbols, specifically starting with the Isis flag, reported the Austrian Press Agency (APA) on Friday evening. [Updated to reflect comments from HC Strache over the weekend.]

The wearing of symbols of the terror group "Islamic State" (IS) should be banned soon, reports the newspaper Wiener Zeitung.

A final agreement is not confirmed said a representative of the Interior Ministry on Friday night, but it would be ready by early next week.  The government has agreed on an appropriate amendment to the Abzeichengesetz  (Badge Law) of 1960  - which outlaws Nazi symbols, flags, uniforms and insignia from banned organizations - with the only matter remaining to be settled being the range of sentencing options for the courts.

A spokesman for Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) was unable to be specific about details of the changes, but suggested they were on a "good path."

According to the spokesman, only minor changes should be needed to the Badges Act.  No general prohibition of Isis was necessary, because existing laws would be sufficient.  

Early next week, tougher measures against suspected jihadists are expected to be announced at a press conference that will include Mikl-Leitner, Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter, Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

It's entirely possible that next's weeks press conference may discuss the possibility of withdrawing citizenship or asylum status from returned jihadists, as is proposed by countries like Denmark.

Earlier on Friday, Germany announced a similar ban on Isis and its symbols.

Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache wants the jihadist terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS) completely banned in Austria. In an interview with the newspaper "Österreich" (Sunday edition) the party leader calls for "forceful action" - a "clamping down on any radical Islamist institutions which call for a holy war, the introduction of Sharia law, or any other similar delusions." 
 
Strache also announced he wants to make "radical Islamism" a key subject of the election campaign in Vienna in 2015. "There is a burning issue to which we have drawn attention for years, for which we were reprimanded by political opponents. Now the reality is there for all to see", he said.
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