Austrian party expels member over anti-Semitic posting
VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party expelled one of its legislators Monday after she backed anti-Semitic sentiments in a Facebook posting.
In a statement, the party also demanded that Susanne Winter give up her seat in parliament — something she said she would not do. Winter said she would continue to sit in the legislature as an independent.
Winter insists she is not anti-Semitic. But the Freedom Party agreed to expel her in response to last week’s post in which she backed a Facebook statement by one of her supporters that said “Jews the world over are the problem.”
Winter responded: “nice that you take the words out of my mouth,” adding a smiling and winking emoticon.
She later deleted both postings and replaced them with one saying “anti-Semitic sentiments were, are, and always will be abhorrent for me.”
The expulsion came after Winter refused a demand from the party to resign. Party General Secretary Herbert Kickl said that Winter “crossed a red line” with her posting.
The Freedom Party denies accusations from critics that it attracts anti-Semites but is occasionally in the Austrian headlines over statements from members and supporters attacking Jews.
It has made significant gains in a series of recent provincial elections after campaigns heavy on anti-immigrant sentiment.