No: 333, 12 December 2018, Press Release Regarding The “symbol Act” On Symbols Of Extremist Organizations That Has Been Passed By The Austrian Parliament

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 12.12.2018

The law on amendments to the “Symbol Act” from 2014, prohibiting the symbols of extremist organizations in Austria, was adopted after the voting in the Austrian National Council yesterday (11 December 2018).

The inclusion of the symbols of the PKK terrorist organization into the law is a positive step in the right direction in the fight against terrorism, albeit a late one. We will closely follow how this particular part of the regulation will be implemented.

On the other hand, the said law includes the “bozkurt” (“Grey Wolves”) sign, which is a symbol of a legal political party in Turkey and the “rabia” sign that is widely used by Muslims in many countries as well as in Turkey. We do not accept this and we strongly condemn it.

These political and religious symbols are not even remotely related to extremism. It is disappointing and worrying that a legislative effort that began with an august objective, such as cooperation in the fight against terrorism, has deviated from its aim and has been trivialized through such a political and populist maneuver. It is clear that the said Act is inconsistent with democratic values, it imposes limitations on legitimate political ground and targets not only those using these political symbols but also the politics and democracy as a whole.

If the Austrian authorities sincerely wish to tackle extremism, they should first look to their own country. They should stop turning a blind eye to the ever-increasing extreme right and racist tendencies that have infiltrated even mainstream politics and take effective measures through an exercise of soul-searching. Yet, xenophobia and racism are phenomena that foreigners living in Austria unfortunately face on a daily basis. In a country with hundreds of thousands-strong Turkish community this situation disturbs the social peace and renders impossible the integration which local authorities attach importance.

This development, which deeply offends Turkey, the Turkish community in Austria and Muslims, will not contribute at all to the ongoing efforts towards normalizing our bilateral relations in the recent period. We expect the Austrian authorities to rectify this grave mistake.

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