Around 30 members of the Identitarian group interrupted the performance taking place at a University of Vienna lecture hall when they stormed the stage and threw out leaflets featuring the words ‘multi-culturism kills’.
The extremists then got into a brawl with some members of the 700 strong audience, in which around eight people were injured. The action lasted around seven minutes, after which the extremists left the venue and the performance continued on to the end of the show after the interruption.
It’s the second protest from the Identitarian group in recent weeks, after a group climbed on the roof of the Green party in Graz last week and unfolded a banner that read “Islamisation kills”.
They had originally planned to stage that protest at a local mosque, but chose the Green party HQ after police learned of their intentions and formed a security cordon with dogs and more than 100 police officers.
In the latest incident last night the extremists targeted a performance by refugees of the play Die Schutzbefohlenen written by Austrian Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek in 2013.
Jelinek wrote the play in response to the occupation of Vienna’s Votivkirche by 60 asylum seekers to draw attention to their plight after Austria said they would be deported.
Most of them claimed that they their lives were under threat if deported to their native countries but Austria disagreed and deported many of them following summer.
The group performing the award-winning play last night included asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. One Syrian actor involved in the play's production has previously spoken about what it meant to him to be able to act and work alongside Austrians.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Austrian Culture Minister Josef Ostermayer said the “shocking” incident was the latest in a string of attacks by the group.
“The constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the arts and freedom of speech are as untouchable as the protection of minorities,” he said.