Vice Chancellor and FPÖ Head Heinz-Christian Strache and SPÖ leader Christian Kern on Wednesday night, had a hard exchange of views on George Soros.
The debate became particularly emotional when George Soros was mentioned, Austrian daily Der Standard reported. Strache said Soros’ involvement in advancing the asylum crisis was based on factual knowledge. “It’s not rumors, it’s facts,” he said.
When Strache explained that the US billionaire of Jewish descent, was recently identified as an enemy, especially in Hungary, because he supported the refugee movements to Europe, the SPÖ boss flew into a rage.
Kern screamed: “What Strache does turns my stomach. Soros’s image of an enemy is made by neo-Nazis and you use that on him. They transcend the boundaries of decency and morality.” The SPÖ leader accused Strache of anti-Semitism even though similar criticism came from the Israeli prime minister.
The vice-chancellor called the allegations “absurd” and “low-class” and spoke of “bad allegations that can not be left unanswered”. Kern is trying to “poison the well”, he said. Criticism of Soros is legitimate and justified, he added. “The denominational level does not matter here,” Strache said.
During the Austrian Ö1 radio debate series Klartext, Strache praised the work of the ÖVP and the FPÖ, while Kern accused the conservatives of an anti-social policy and “right-wing activities”.
Soros’ Open Society Foundation had previously accused the FPÖ in a study of “spreading Islamophobia”.
FPÖ party boss Johann Gudenus said in response that the US billionaire had issued a “more than cheeky statement”. The OSF study on the Reglementation of Islamic Clothing in the EU Member States, described the leading conservative party as playing “a central role in the spread of Islamophobia” in Austria.
“Islam itself, with its own laws and mediaeval rules, is why more and more people in Europe want nothing to do with this worldview and belief,” Gudenus said. The Open Society Foundation rejected blanket veiling prohibitions to be introduced as “discrimination against Muslim women”.
But Gudenus said the Open Society Foundation actually suppresses Muslim women. The new government is currently planning to introduce headscarf bans on girls in kindergartens and schools.
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