In country with an inglorious record of anti-Semitism, the prosecutor’s office in Austria’s third largest city has now declared that a Facebook post showing Adolf Hitler with a statement praising the death of Jews constitutes legitimate and legal criticism of Israel.
Ibrahim, a 29-year-old owner of a hair salon outside of Linz, posted an image of Hitler in December along with the caption “I could have annihilated all the Jews in the world, but I left some of them alive so you will know why I was killing them…”.
He was investigated under an Austrian law that apparently forbids praising the Nazi regime, but successfully claimed that his anti-Semitic outburst was merely criticism of Israel’s actions during Operation Protective Edge, the war with Hamas that had ended a few months prior. The statements were not glorifying Hitler, but simply expressing “displeasure toward Israel,” prosecutor’s office spokesman Philip Christl told the newspaper Oberösterreichische Nachrichten.
“This position [of the prosecutor] is, unfortunately, becoming more popular,” Stefan Schaden, a board member of the Austria-Israel Society, told The Jerusalem Post. “Everything passes as so-called criticism of Israel. Anti-Semitism seems to have been officially abolished. In view of the climate in Europe, it is a dramatic development.”
The controversy over the lack of prosecution has reportedly spurred the prosecutor’s office to take another look at the case.
A German court ruled last year that the firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal was motivated by a desire to bring “attention to the Gaza conflict,” not anti-Semitism.
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