New York, NY, February 2, 2012 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) commended Austrian President Heinz Fischer for his decision not to honor the leader of Austria's far-right Freedom Party with a major national award.
Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache was scheduled to receive the Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria in honor of his 10 years of government service. But the award was cancelled today in the aftermath of his comments at the Wiener Korporations-Ball, where Strache reportedly was overheard comparing public protests against the ball to the Nazis' persecution of Jews during Kristallnacht.
The following is the text of a letter sent to the Austrian president by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director:
Dear Mr. President,
We commend your decision to withdraw the award to Heinz-Christian Strache of the Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria. Mr. Strache's outrageous comments at the Wiener Korporations-Ball, where he reportedly compared protests being staged outside the ball to Jewish persecution during Kristallnacht, were deeply offensive and unbecoming of an Austrian political leader.
The immediate widespread condemnation of Mr. Strache's comments by Austria's political and civil society leaders speak volumes about the sensitivity and morality of most Austrians. As President, representing all of Austria's citizens, your decision to cancel the award firmly underscores that trivialization of the Holocaust has no place in Austrian society and will not be tolerated.
Unfortunately, because Mr. Strache's extremist views are held by certain segments of Austrian society, it is vital that you and other Austrian leaders continue to speak out against all forms of hatred and incitement. We are appreciative of your actions, and please be assured of our highest consideration.
ADL had previously condemned Strache's remarks as "outrageous and deeply offensive."