Austrian artist’s public statues removed over his anti-Jewish social media post

Manfred Kielnhofer Austrian artist’s public statues removed in several cities after sharing an anti-Jewish COVID conspiracy theory image on his social media.

Manfred Kielnhofer is a prominent Austrian painter and sculptor, yet his statues are currently being removed in two Austrian cities after he posted an anti-Jewish COVID conspiracy theory image on his Facebook. The picture is of an Israeli flag with the Star of David made out of syringes, as a protest of the latest coronavirus restrictions – Austria might become the first nation to mandate COVID vaccines for all adults.

In an interview with the local newspaper BerzirksRundSchau, the artist said that vaccine manufacturers “are often Jewish”. „I read that somewhere. Look who the bosses of the pharmaceutical industry are.” Although Keilnhofer admitted that he “overshot the mark” with the image, he defends his position in the name of freedom to express his criticism. Nevertheless, while he was intentionally critical towards Jews, he claims that someone hacked his computer and changed the text appearing under the image.

In response to the image, the city of Steyr is removing the artist’s famous sculpture “Guardians of Time” from the historic town square, and Linz will end its agreement with Keilnhofer to display a similar statue of the sculptor on its central street.

Director of the Cultural Department of Upper Austria Alfred Weidinger told the APA News Agency that he was „shocked by the insidious tastelessness of this conspiracy theory,” reports the Israel Hayom. „The mindset of the creator of this illustration represents a threat to all democratic, humane, and solidarity values in our country,” he said. „Even artistic freedom has its limits.”