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Earlier arson attack on Sellner (right). Photo supplied

Identity Movement rallies in Vienna against smear campaign

Supporters of the Identity Movement Austria (IBÖ) held a rally on Saturday afternoon under a massive police presence in front of the Ministry of Justice in Vienna.

Published: April 17, 2019, 7:54 am

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    Various numerically superior anti-rightist groups, organised by the left-wing “Platform for a human asylum policy” and the “Offensive against law” were kept at bay by a strong police cordon. On the Vienna Ring highway meanwhile, there were large traffic jams.

    The background of the IB rally was forced by Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s (ÖVP) clear demarcation of the FPÖ from the identity grouping. The IB operates mainly in Austria and Germany.

    The head of the IBÖ, Martin Sellner, in his speech warned against the “threat” by a “deep left state”, “political justice” and the “media mafia”.

    He called the supporters, who appeared despite a “defamation campaign”, “heroes” and praised the group as the “avant-garde of freedom of expression”. In chants, participants expressed their love for their country: “Heimatliebe – kein Verbrechen” and held up placard signs with the inscription “For Freedom of Speech and Against the Great Replacement”. A Pegida banner was also on display.

    Sellner is under pressure in Austria over a cash donation from the Christchurch mosque shooter, many months before the mass shooting in New Zealand. The Austrian judiciary has been investigating the IB.

    Sellner’s apartment has been searched by the police several times over the past few weeks, and for the first time on 25 March. In the run-up to the demonstration, Sellner publicly stated his motivation in a video: “I am complaining. In this state an injustice happened.”

    Before the Ministry of Justice, he wanted, literally, to challenge the powerful. He said would not be falsely branded as the accomplice of a mass murderer.

    The police did not specify the amount of protesters involved. According to certain sources, about 300 predominantly younger people participated in the IB rally.

    Sellner drew a positive conclusion from the rally. He told Berlin weekly Junge Freiheit: “The IB can not take disappear.” The demonstration remained peaceful and there were no right-wing posters or slogans, contrary to media reports.

    Austria is currently considering a law to make it mandatory for big internet platforms to register users, depriving participants of their anonymity.

    “Unfortunately there have been an increasing number of clear violations, denigrations and humiliations online in the past under the cover of anonymity. That’s why we need a framework for more responsibility online,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted.

    The new law would take effect in 2020 and would make it mandatory for platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to register their users, according to Gernot Bluemel, Minister of EU affairs, art, culture and media.

    In Austria, the law would have to be approved MPs as well as the European Commission. Online media receives more than 50 000 euros in state aid, Bluemel said.

    Austrian opposition parties have criticised the proposal, saying it restricts online freedom and hands over even more user data to online giants, such as Facebook.

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