After anti-Semitism allegations: Austria’s interior minister apologizes

After anti-Semitism allegations
Austria’s interior minister apologizes

An interview from 2007 with controversial allusions does not cast Austria’s new interior minister in a good light – there are allegations of anti-Semitism. Karner now apologizes for his words: The statements were misleading.

Austria’s new Interior Minister Gerhard Karner regretted his statements from 14 years ago after accusations of anti-Semitism. According to media reports from 2007, the conservative ÖVP politician had accused the social democratic SPÖ of planning a “dirty election campaign” with the help of international advisors. Karner was quoted by the magazine “Profil” at the time as saying that the SPÖ had “deliberately poisoned the climate with the gentlemen from America and Israel.” “I regret the statements from back then and would no longer make them today,” said Karner.

Prior to this, prominent artists, Jewish student representatives, scientists and representatives of the Holocaust victims had accused Karner in an open letter of anti-Semitic rhetoric in the Lower Austrian state election campaign in 2007. Nobel laureate in literature Elfriede Jelinek is also among the signatories of the appeal calling for Karner to be replaced as minister. The President of Vienna’s Israelitischer Kultusgemeinde, Oskar Deutsch, described Karner’s statements as “highly problematic” and called for clarification, which was then given in the afternoon.

The statements from the past were misleading, said Karner in his message. He regrets that. “I therefore emphasize that I strongly and very decisively reject even the remotest touch of anti-Semitic ideas.”

In an initial statement, Karner initially made it clear that he would no longer use such formulations – he had not yet regretted the statements. Karner is also under criticism because of a museum for the Austrofascist Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss (1892-1934). The memorial is operated by the Texingtal community, where Karner was mayor until recently. According to Karner, the museum will be revised next year.

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