Identitarian Movement in Austria Displays its Colours Against Government's Anti-Patriotic Symbolism Policy
Alongside the French Génération Identitaire, the IBÖ in Austria is the arguably the best-known offshoot of the Identitarian movement in Europe. For years Austrian activists have been drawing attention to the pressing political problems of our time, such as population replacement or the threat of Islamist terrorism – sometimes in spectacular fashion. At the same time as the level of awareness of the Identitarian Movement in Austria began to increase, so too did pressure against the ruling politicians and their henchmen in state institutions.
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Allegedly as a reaction to the Islamist-motivated terrorist attack in Vienna on the 2nd November 2020, the Austrian centre-right government under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz presented a package of measures against extremism in December 2020, including an amendment to the existing Symbols Act. Absurdly, but characteristic of the left-wing and liberal globalist disciples at the levers of political power, in addition to the symbols of Islamist terrorist organisations, the Identitarian Movement's identifying sign, the lambda symbol, shall also be banned in the Alpine Republic in the future.
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Although the explicitly non-violent IBÖ has been attested in numerous court rulings that it has always moved – and continues to move – on the ground of the rule of law, the dubious coup regime in Austria seems to be willing to use any means to criminalise patriotic movements and nip their activities in the bud. The fact that the ideological orientation and rhetoric of the Chancellor's party, ÖVP, and that of the IBÖ are exactly the same in all areas where they overlap, without exception – according to a study by the Austrian political magazine Freilich – obviously plays as little role in this as the accompanying trivialisation of real threats to the rule of law and society in Austria.
The deputy provincial leader of the Upper Austrian FPÖ, Dr Manfred Haimbuchner, warned as early as December 2020 of an "unprecedented instrumentalisation of parliamentarianism and an attack on the rule of law" and also called the action a "mockery of the victims of Islamist terror". The designated chairman of the FPÖ, Herbert Kickl, considers the IBÖ – according to his own statements – to be "something like an NGO from the right" (one that deserves this name, because it receives no money from the state).
Interestingly, even organisations that can be classified as left-wing in their ideology have criticised the proposed ban. For example, the non-governmental organisation Epicenter took a stand:
The inclusion of these groups is in conflict with fundamental rights and should be rejected for this reason. Freedom of expression, assembly and association are the cornerstones of a functioning and vibrant democracy.
Amnesty International also expressed itself clearly. The organisation recalled that freedom of expression "does not only encompass moderate, innocuous or adapted expressions". Moreover, the European Court of Human Rights clarifies that the “potential dissemination of the ideology behind a symbol may not be the only reason for a restriction in the form of a punitive section”, according to the Austrian newspaper Wochenblick.
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On 17th June 2021, the Austrian Parliament was due to vote on the aforementioned amendment to the Symbols Act. However, the debate and resolution were postponed indefinitely at the last minute, as further amendments are due to be made. It is still unclear as to what these amendments are due to entail. Critics fear that in addition to the lambda symbol, other symbols of patriotic organisations will be added to the ban list of the government. Besides the IBÖ, for example, the logo of the citizens' movement DO5 – Die Österreicher – is also a target of the government's ban fetishists.
In the meantime, activists of the Austrian Identitarians have taken another peaceful and non-violent action to draw attention to the government's legislative initiative, which violates fundamental rights, restricts freedom of expression and endangers democracy. On Vienna's Heldenplatz and other locations, the Austrian Identitarians released helium-filled balloons bearing banners with the lambda symbol, which is threatened by the ban, as stated prior. Furthermore, an Identitarian demonstration is planned for the 31st July 2021 in Vienna against the lambda ban and the questionable symbolic policies of the Austrian government.
Protecting the homeland can never be illegal. Patriotic resistance cannot be banned.
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