A neighbour photographed the damage. Photo: Grossenzersdorf council
Shortly after the man bought the house in Augasse, he was heard complaining to his neighbours about the two-metre high crucifix with the figure of Jesus that stood for several decades on the grass verge in front of his property.
“I don't want that. It has to go!”, he said, according to a report in the news daily Heute.
Soon, during renovations to his house, he had access to an angle grinder, so he simply cut it down, slightly damaging the Jesus figure in the process.
His neighbours weren't happy. Local mayor Hubert Tomsic of the socialist Christian Democrats (SPÖ) said “I had a conversation with the man about repositioning the cross at a different location in the alley – at his expense.”
Tomsic said that such a 'radical' response to the common Christian symbol was offensive, and inflammatory. The right-wing Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) said on Monday that they have lodged a complaint with the police for criminal damage, and denigration of religious teachings.
On Tuesday, local Muslim leaders condemned the action of the Egyptian man in the strongest terms, saying that such an act caused great consternation. According to Islam, Muslims should respect the symbols of other religions, they said in a press release.
The old cross was a regular destination for Church processions since the past 60 years.