Campaigns of Intolerance: Austrian Politician Calls Prophet Muhammad a 'Child Molester'
A candidate campaigning for the Graz city council in Austria says it is time that Islam was "thrown back ... behind the Mediterranean," and alleges Muhammad wrote the Koran in "epileptic fits."
Susanne Winter, campaigning for the Graz city council, called the Prophet Muhammad a child molester.
Susanne Winter, a right-wing politician with the FPÖ party running for a city council seat in the city of Graz, blasted Muslims on Sunday, saying that "in today's system" the Prophet Muhammad would be considered a "child molester," apparently referring to his marriage to a six-year-old child. She also said that it is time for Islam to be "thrown back where it came from, behind the Mediterranean." Not yet finished, she also claimed that Muhammad wrote the Koran in "epileptic fits."
In an interview with the daily Österreich published on Monday, Winter continued the onslaught saying that child abuse is "widespread" among Muslim men and that Graz is facing a "tsunami of Muslim immigration." In 20 or 30 years, she warned, half of Austria's population would be Muslim.
Her comments have resulted in a storm of protest in Austria, with politicians and commentators of all stripes taking Winter and her party to task. Austrian prosecutors are also looking into the possibility of filing charges against the 50-year-old politician for incitement.
Her comments, said Omar Al-Rawi, head of integration for an Austrian association of Muslims, showed "a lack of respect" and they "had no basis in fact." He told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that such Islam bashing has reached a point in Austria that "one wants to puke."
But despite the strong reaction generated by Winter, such rhetoric is hardly foreign to political campaigns in Austria. Her party was brought to international prominence by Jörg Haider, the notoriously right-leaning politician who found success in the 1990s and earlier this decade with a mixture of xenophobia and nationalism. He has since moved on, but his rhetoric has remained the same. Campaigning recently for his new group, the Association for Austria's Future (BZÖ), he said, "We are still allowed to say Gruss Gott," -- the traditional Austrian greeting -- "and don't have to praise Allah."
A Winter campaign poster: "Don't give radical Islam a home."
Stay informed with our free news services:
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH
Corriere della Sera
MORE FROM SPIEGEL INTERNATIONAL
German PoliticsMerkel's Moves: Power Struggles in Berlin
World War IITruth and Reconciliation: Why the War Still Haunts Europe
EnergyGreen Power: The Future of Energy
European UnionUnited Europe: A Continental Project
Climate ChangeGlobal Warming: Curbing Carbon Before It's Too Late