Calls to remove the new Austrian Interior Minister from his position have arisen amid antisemitism accusations.
Gerhard Karner was made Interior Minister on 6th December, but shortly after, accusations of antisemitism surfaced from comments he made over a decade earlier when he was said to have accused Austria’s center-left Social Democrats of working “against the country with gentlemen from America and Israel,” and described them as “climate poisoners.”
The German news website Der Spiegel, who published the report which featured the accusations, also included a quote from the Minister’s spokesperson who said that he was referring to “dirty campaigning” by an Israeli political adviser.
An open letter, which included signatories from Jewish students, academics, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Elfriede Jelinek and others, stated: “The antisemitic dimension of this comment is obvious. We are convinced that this person is completely unsuited to the office of interior minister and call on the government to put our security in the hands of moderate politicians.”
Mr Karner reportedly said on Monday that he regrets his comments, but rejected the accusations of antisemitism. “If things I said then were understood ambiguously, I regret that,” Karner said. “The comments were never in any way intended to go in this direction, and I would not make them now.”
Mr Karner has also reportedly arranged to meet with Oskar Deutsch, President of the Jewish Community of Vienna (IKG) and the Federal Association of Jewish Religious Communities in Austria, who had asked the Minister for clarification on his comments.
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