(JTA) — Austria canceled the presentation of a major national award to the leader of an Austrian far-right political party after he mocked Holocaust survivors.
Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache was scheduled to receive the Decoration of Honor for Services to the Republic of Austria for 10 years of government service, but Austrian President Heinz Fischer announced Wednesday that he would not be honored.
Strache was overheard by a reporter for the daily Der Standard comparing protests against the Wiener Korporations-Ball in Vienna to Kristallnacht and saying “we are the new Jews.” In addition, a Strache associate reportedly said that “whoever works for this ball immediately gets a Jew star pinned on him.”
Some 2,600 demonstrators were protesting that the ball, which was organized by Strache’s far-right Freedom Party, was held on Jan. 27, the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Strache charges that his words were misrepresented and taken out of context. He said that Fisher has not contacted him directly since the comments went public.
Vienna’s Jewish community called on the state prosecutor to launch an investigation into the comments, according to reports.