If neo-Nazis would march in Vienna with a poster proclaiming “Hitler wake up”, the left-liberal Viennese weekly Falter would not describe this as “strange demand”, but ask why the police allowed this slogan (a criminal offence in Austria) to be shown unhindered in public. But when it reported a demonstration organized by anti-imperialist “activists” on June 1st, they found the demand “Hitler wake up” only “strange”. The big pro-Hamas demonstration in Vienna on June 4th was different from demonstrations in other European cities. One of its main speakers was Omar al Rawi, a Social Democratic (SPÖ) member of Vienna’s local parliament (Wiener Landtag), who is also “Integrationsbeauftragter” (officially responsible for the integration of foreigners) belonging to the Muslim religious community of Austria. Omar al Rawi, who is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke in front of about 10,000 demonstrators shouting “Israel – murderers” who waived “Israel – child killer” banners. Thomas Schmidinger, an Austrian lecturer on Political Sciences at the University of Vienna and co-author of a handbook on political Islam in Austria, published in the Vienna daily Die Presse a comment “against the ‘ethicizing’ of politics”. Schmidinger blamed all Austrian parties and wrote about the SPÖ and Omar al Rawi, whose “official position of contact to political Islam is of great importance. His friendly façade always crumbles when the subject matter turns to his real passion, mobilizing feelings against Israel. He has often appeared as rabble-rouser at demonstrations of Arab and Turkish Islamists professing solidarity with Hamas-governed Gaza. Last Friday, when I left the National Library, I heard from afar the voice of Al Rawi, raging and ranting against the ‘open air prison’ of Gaza in which ‘one and a half million people are incarcerated’, that the Palestinian victims ‘did not die in vain’ and that their fight must go on. The angry crowd called Israel “terrorist state” and “child-Killer”. Al Rawi could proudly refer to a unanimous resolution by the Vienna Landtag condemning Israel” before his audience with Turkish, Iranian and Hezbollah flags.
Evidence from Austria suggest that the Austrian Muslim Brotherhood played an important and likely key role in the demonstrations. For example, a report from Austrian Islamic media features a photograph of the organizers of the “Free Gaza Platform” which includes:
- Jamal Morad (head of the Islamische Liga der Kultur, representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Austria)
- Adel Doghman (Palastinensische Vereinigung in Osterreich, Austrian Union of Good/Hamas support member organization)
- Mehmet Turhan (Milli Görüs, Turkish Islamist organization close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood)
For photos of the demo, go here.