AUSTRIA: Anti-Islam Freedom Party will expand into Germany

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party has announced plans to expand into Germany, where it hopes to join forces with another militant anti-Islamic group and campaign against Turkey’s accession to the European Union as part of a widening bid for political power.

Austria’s far right Freedom Party (FPO) is causing outrage with its advertising campaign. The slogan causing all the fuss appears in bold letters across huge billboards next to the smiling face of Freedom Party leader Heinz Christian Strache. “Mehr Mut für Wiener Blut” – more courage for Viennese Blood. The next  line says – “Too many foreigners does no one any good”

UK INDEPENDENTThe party, which swept to power in Austria under the leadership of the late Jörg Haider a decade ago, made huge gains in Vienna elections earlier this month when it won 26 per cent of the vote and overnight became the city’s second most powerful party.

The dramatic resurgence followed an anti-Islamic election campaign in the Austrian capital’s traditionally white working-class districts, which now have big immigrant communities. The party’s vote-winning tactics included distributing a free computer game (BYE BYE MOSQUE) that allows players to shoot at mosques, minarets and muezzin.

The party’s current leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said at a right-wing political congress in Vienna at the weekend that his organisation’s growing appeal meant it was now time to move into Germany. The party plans to open its “German office” with the little known Pro-Deutschland ultra right-wing movement, which recently gained seats on Cologne city council.

“We have a lot in common,” said Hans-Jörg Jenewein, the Freedom Party’s general secretary. “The Pro-movement should achieve in Germany what we have in Austria.” Both parties will hold a press conference in the west German town of Leverkusen this week to announce what was described as a “patriotic movement at federal level”.

The Pro movement won five Cologne parliament seats last year after campaigning fiercely against the construction of a new mosque in the city’s suburbs.

Mr Strache’s plans for expansion were unveiled at a conference in Vienna attended by delegates from far-right parties across Europe. Declaring that he wanted to combat “bad developments” within the EU, he claimed that Turkey’s proposed accession threatened to turn Europe into a “Euro-Asiatic-African Union,” which “cannot be allowed to happen.”

Other far-right parties at the meeting included the Sweden Democrats, who entered parliament for the first time in Stockholm last month, Italy’s Lega Nord and the Danish People’s Party. Bruno Valkeniers, the leader of Belgium’s far right Vlaams Belang was also reported to have been present.

In Germany concern about the far right had, until recently, been limited to the activities of the openly racist neo-Nazi National Democratic Party. However, worries that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have become too left-wing on key issues such as immigration, have prompted talk about the possible formation of a new right-wing conservative party.