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Church official slams Austrian election slogan

August 13, 2013

VIENNA (AP) — A prominent Austrian Protestant official is criticizing the anti-immigration Freedom Party for suggesting brotherly love should be restricted to Austrians.

Ahead of Sept. 29 elections, party posters show its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, affectionately gazing at an elderly woman who is stroking his cheek. The poster proclaims: “Love your neighbor. For me, those are our Austrians.”

Protestant official Michael Chalupka says the slogan misrepresents the Bible. In Tuesday’s Oesterreich newspaper, he says Jesus chose the Good Samaritan — for many Jews “a foreigner” — as exemplifying brotherly love that disregards issues such as nationality or religion, and suggests Strache doesn’t understand the message.

Strache is quoted as replying: “Our brothers are the Austrians, whom we place in the focus of our interest — and not ... those trying to gain false asylum.”

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