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FPÖ MP expelled for anti-Semitic remarks

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FPÖ MP expelled for anti-Semitic remarks
Photo: FPÖ Campaign poster for Winter
10:40 CET+01:00
Update: After a firestorm of controversy over anti-Semitic remarks, Freedom Party MP Susanne Winter was expelled from the party on Monday evening, after failing to resign by a deadline.

This came despite her backpedalling after making remarks on social media which were interpreted as supporting anti-Semitic views.

The party gave the errant MP the chance to resign by 7pm instead of being expelled, but she did not do so.

"Given that up to this point in time no announcement has been made as to the resignation of Susanne Winter, she is hereby excluded from the Austrian Freedom Party with immediate effect. In addition, the FPÖ continues to call for her to give up her mandate (in parliament)," the party said in a statement.

Winter had replied to a post on Facebook from a person called Hans-Jörg Öhlmann, which said “Zionist Money-Jews are the global problem. Europe, and in particular Germany, are now getting what they deserve from Zionist Jews, particularly rich Zionist Jews in the USA, for the century-long persecution of Jews in Europe."

"According to the Zionists, Europe, particularly Germany, should be cut off as economic competitors to the US.”

The post was in reference to an article in which Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán had criticised Jewish financier George Soros for meddling in the politics of the central European country.

Winter responded with “It is great. You are taking the words right out of my mouth. There are a lot of things I am not allowed to write. Therefore I'm even more pleased about courageous, independent people.”

On Sunday, the Jewish activist organization Anti Defamation League (ADL) was quick to condemn both posts as clearly anti-Semitic.  Shortly thereafter, Winter's post was deleted, but not before copies were made.

Winter made a statement to Der Standard newspaper on Sunday, saying that she was sorry for the post, which she described as "foolish."

“I am not anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends,” she told the newspaper.

Freedom Party General Secretary Herbert Kickl in a statement called Winter's post “absolutely unacceptable.”

“The Freedom Party is no place for anti-Semitism,” he said, adding that Winter could be suspended from the party.

Anti-Islamic views

This is not the first time Winter has been criticized for her outspoken views.  In 2008, she was prosecuted for incitement, after making a strong anti-Muslim statement:

“In today's system” the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a “child molester,” apparently referring to his marriage to a six-year-old child. She also said that it is time for Islam to be “thrown back where it came from, behind the Mediterranean.”

A court in her home town of Graz found her guilty of humiliating a religion.  She was fined ‎€24,000, and given a suspended prison term of three months.

She also proposed in a discussion with students that Muslim men should commit bestiality rather than making “indecent advances” on girls.

Winter's son Michael, a former youth leader in the Freedom Party, was convicted of the same crime.  He had suggested in a newsletter that Turkish Muslims were in the habit of committing bestiality.

Disgrace

Winter is “a disgrace to the Austrian Parliament,” Oskar German, president of the Austrian Jewish Community, told Der Standard.

ADL National Director Jonathan Greenblatt, who is meeting with European officials and the continent's Jewish community leaders, said in a statement: “Once again, a member of Austria's Freedom Party has been caught promoting offensive anti-Semitic stereotypes."

"Susanne Winter's response to the outrageous comments about Jews and money on her Facebook page shows that, when prompted, she would willingly endorse the worst kind of anti-Semitic stereotypes. These are the same grotesque notions that have bedeviled European Jews for hundreds of years."

“Anti-Semitic stereotypes simply have no place in Austrian society. It is bad enough when they are whispered privately, but far worse when such hateful views emanate directly from a member of parliament who has a bully pulpit to express her ideas.”

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