Austrian far-right compares Turkey crackdown to Nazi fire
The head of the Austrian far-right has compared the crackdown on media and political opposition in Turkey to the purge in Nazi Germany by Hitler following the Reichstag fire.
The comments were made by the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, Heinz-Christrian Strache in an interview published on Saturday with the Die Presse newspaper.
Strache was asked about the aftermath of the failed coup against Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, which has seen mass arrests in the military and civil service and crackdown on media.
He said that he believed the coup in Turkey was in fact a “guided putsch” used to help make “a presidential dictatorship by Erdogan possible.”
“But we have dramatically experienced such mechanisms in the past - including the Reichstag fire. The consequences of that was the crafting of total power. And one also has the impression that a little guiding took place here.”
In the aftermath of the fire in the Reichstag fire, Hitler cracked down on the Communist Party, a member of which was blamed for the fire, and rolled back civil liberties.
The mass arrests of communist politicians lead to the Nazi party becoming the majority party in Germany and Hitler consolidating his power.
The idea that Turkey’s coup was guided by President Erdogan was also put forward by the Turkish leader’s exiled rival US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Erdogan has strongly denied the accusation, however, and says the coup was organised by supporters of Gulen.
War of words
Strache’s comments come amid a war of words between Austrian and Turkish politicians.
After Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern suggested negotiations about Turkey’s EU memberships by called off following democratic and economic deficits in the country, Turkey's foreign minister called Austria the "capital of racism".
In response to Kern’s comments, Turkish lawmaker from the ruling AK Party Burhan Kuzu wrote on twitter the phrase ‘fuck off foreigner’. After it was widely re-tweeted, Kuzu claimed he only meant to write ‘come on, foreigner’.
Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz also said on Saturday that he would oppose any steps aimed at bringing Turkey closer to joining the European Union.