Austrian Court Rules Protesters Can Give Middle Finger to Far-right Vice Chancellor Strache
Far-right Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is on the losing end of a court ruling after he accused left-wing activists of âpublic insults," in which the group flips their middle fingers off at his policies in a video.
The left-wing group, Linkswende Jetzt (Left Now), created a video stating their opposition to Strache and his right-wing Freedom Party (FPÃ), AFP first reported. The videos feature large drawings of Johnny Cashâs iconic middle finger photograph and each of the segments ends with the leftist supporters proclaiming âF**k Strache!" as they also extend their middle fingers.
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âBecause we stand in solidarity with refugees and Muslims we say: F **k Strache,â several Left Now supporters said in the video. "Because the anti-women politics of the FPO reminds me of the Mutterkkreuz of the Nazis: F**k Strache."
A Vienna appeals court ruled Thursday that the groupâs popular social media videos ridiculing Strache are covered by the countryâs free speech laws. The court dismissed Stracheâs attempt at placing the video under Austriaâs defamation and disparagement laws, which can include when âthe Republic of Austria, or one of its constituent States, is maliciously insulted or degraded in such a way that it is perceived by a broad section of the public,â according to the International Press Institute.
The appeals court ruling confirmed the decision of a lower court that the left-wing activists have the right to express âprovocative and shockingâ political opinions as it is a âfundamental part of freedom of expression.â
This freedom of speech fight comes as Strache is the target of a lawsuit from the Austrian public broadcaster ORF after the vice chancellor took to Facebook to label the outlet âpropagandaâ and âlies," German broadcaster DW first reported.
The Freedom Party leader is accused of making libelous and âuntrue attacks on the ORF,â after he posted Facebook comments calling several journalists and the publication a bunch of âliars.â Strache labeled a story from chief ARD correspondent Michael Mandlik âSatire!â and included a cropped photo of Pinocchio.
Taking a page from President Donald Trump's phrase playbook, Strache also posted several more Facebook comments labeling the ORF âfake news.â
"There's a place where lies become news. It's the ORF," the text on Stracheâs post read, mimicking ads the broadcaster distributes. âThe best of fake news, lies and propaganda, pseudo-culture and forced licensing fees. Regional and international. On TV, radio and the Facebook profile of Armi n Wolf."
Strache has since removed the posts and apologized to Wolf for the comments by saying that it was simply âsatire.â
The ORFâs defamation suit against Strache has drawn criticism from Strache and other right-wing Freedom Party politicians who say there needs to be âORF Reformâ so that they are purely neutral.Source: Google News Austria | Netizen 24 Austria