Two Austrian men who publicised myths about coronavirus vaccinations by wearing Stars of David have reportedly been convicted of violating the Alpine republic’s strict anti-Nazi laws.
The two men, who have both refused to be vaccinated, had worn yellow felt stars bearing the word “Ungeimpft” (unvaccinated) at anti-vaccination demonstrations held in Vienna.
A court in Vienna heard that the defendants, known as “Mr K”, 50, and “Mr B”, 34, pled not guilty to infringing upon Austria’s 1947 Verbotsgesetz (Prohibition Act), which not only banned Nazi paramilitary organisations, but made it illegal to publish or broadcast denials or minimisation of the Holocaust. Austria’s Jewish community has recently argued that these laws should be extended to ban the utilisation of Holocaust-related imagery and slogans in order to push anti-vaccination conspiracy theories.
Much of the rhetoric that has emerged from anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists has compared lockdowns to the Holocaust. These crude and inflammatory comparisons have included protesters donning yellow stars bearing the word “Unvaccinated”, a comparison that has been made across the world, including in the United Kingdom, Canada, Ukraine and elsewhere.
Such symbolism is reminiscent of the kind of insignia that Jews in Germany and occupied Europe were forced to wear by the Nazis. Those wearing such items in 2021 do so in order to compare the persecution of the Jewish people with protective measures sanctioned by the German federal government in order to deal with the pandemic. Anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination networks have become known as hotbeds of antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes.
The judge handed both men fifteen-month suspended sentences and three years’ probation.