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EXPLAINED: Who is Austria's far right figure head banned across Europe?

Michael Stuchbery
Michael Stuchbery - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Who is Austria's far right figure head banned across Europe?
Martin Sellner in attendance at this year's Akademikerball in Vienna, favoured by the Far Right. Source: Alex Halada / AFP

Following a ban from a Swiss canton over the weekend and a total ban from Germany issued today, far-right figurehead Martin Sellner is making headlines - here’s why.

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Who is Martin Sellner?

Born in Vienna in 1989, Sellner has been involved with the Far Right - including groups associated with Neo-Nazism and Holocaust denial - since his teens. 

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First gaining attention from Austrian police in 2006 for distributing Neo-Nazi material, in 2012, he helped found the Identitäre Bewegung Österreich (Identitarian Movement Austria). 

Over the next several years, he became the figurehead of the ‘Identitarian’ movement in Europe, which called for the deportation of non-white migrants and whose members were implicated in several racist attacks. 

READ ALSO: How much of a threat is Austria's far-right Identitarian Movement?

In 2019, Sellner came under increased scrutiny following the revelation that Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant donated thousands of Euros to his organisation. He temporarily withdrew from the spotlight with the prospect of the Identitarian Movement being banned in Austria. 

Why is Sellner back in the news? 

Sellner courted fresh controversy in January 2024 when it was revealed that in November of last year, he was a speaker at a meeting in Potsdam attended by members of the Alternative für Deutschland and the CDU parties. 

His plans for the forced ‘remigration’ of foreigners were discussed there, sparking massive protests across Germany. 

As a result, on the morning of Tuesday, March 19th, the city of Potsdam announced that a ban on Sellner was in effect immediately. This prevents him from entering Germany for the foreseeable future.  Sellner is appealing the ban. 

Sellner again made headlines this week when he was banned from the Swiss canton of Aargau. 

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Having learned of Sellner’s political platform, the owner of premises in Tegfelden, northwest of Zurich, cancelled a planned event where he was due to speak to the ‘Junge Tat’ organisation. 

When he refused to heed the request, police removed Sellner from the venue and placed a two-year ban on him from entering the canton.

Sellner’s tweet on the matter resulted in a response from Elon Musk, who has been criticised for supporting Far Right ideas. 

 

Is Martin Sellner a threat?

With a total ban on entering Germany, and the canton of Aargau, in addition to prior bans from entering the United States and the United Kingdom still in effect, Sellner has far less influence than he used to on the Far Right scene in Europe. 

That said, Sellner is well-connected and digitally savvy. He is still involved with Telegram channels, which have hundreds of thousands of followers. He is also heavily involved with online outlets such as Reconquista Germanica, which uses gaming culture to gain followers. 

He’s also publicising a book, and as many public figures have demonstrated over the last decade, controversy sells copies.

In that respect, it can be expected that he will continue inviting authorities to cancel his events and arrest him to maintain public attention.

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