Austrian Parliament expands ban on extremist symbols to include Islamist emblems, domestic ultra-right symbols not banned
Austria's National Assembly has amended its law on extremist symbols. The Austrian Press Agency (APA) reports that the ban has been expanded to include the emblems of Islamist organizations especially, such as those of Al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State (IS).
Opposition lawmakers criticized the amendment for failing to expand the ban to include symbols used by Austria's ultra-right. The amendment was approved by votes from the governing Freedom Party (FPÖ) and People's Party (ÖVP) and also criminalizes symbolism used by Hamas in Palestine, by the Muslim Brotherhood, by the banned militant Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and by the Croatian Fascist movement, the Ustaša.
The expansion does not include symbols used by domestic ultra-right groups such as the xenophobic Austrian Identitarian Movement (IBÖ) and the opposition dislikes that fact. The list of organizations newly criminalized by the amendment is considered "arbitrary" by the Socialists (SPÖ).
Austria closed seven mosques this year and deported several Muslim clerics, as well as convicting several Croatian nationals of sympathizing with Nazism. Representatives of the domestic extremist scene, the IBÖ in particular, were also brought to trial.
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