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Anti-Semitism Said Up in Austria

October 23, 1999

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Threats against Jews have risen sharply in Austria with recent parliamentary elections that brought a strong finish for a far-right party, a Jewish leader said Friday.

The vote propelled the far-right Austrian Freedom Party, led by nationalist Joerg Haider, into second place behind the governing Social Democrats. The party gained more than 27 percent of the vote, more than any other rightist party in Europe.

Ariel Muzicant, the president of the Jewish Community, told reporters that in the four weeks prior to the Oct. 3 election and in the days following, there had been a dramatic ``tenfold″ rise in violent behavior against members of the Jewish Community.

Muzicant said Jews had been ``jostled, cursed or threatened.″ He said he also knew instances of threats experienced by foreigners in the country.

The election outcome has resulted in a political stalemate. The conservative Austrian People’s Party, which finished third, has refused to renew its coalition pact with the Social Democrats or form a government with Haider’s party. The Social Democrats are refusing to talk with Haider about a new Cabinet.

Muzicant spoke at a news conference of the Platform Democratic Offensive, which has countered Haider’s policies.

One of the group’s members, Ferdinard Lacina, said he could sense the beginning of ``more aggression and less tolerance″ toward foreigners in Austria. The group said it planned a demonstration on Nov. 12, the Day of the Republic, against what it called Austria’s swing to the right.

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