Gerhard Karner, new interior minister of Austria rejects accusations of making antisemitic comments.
Gerhard Karner was appointed interior minister a week ago, after his predecessor Karl Nehammer became the new Chancellor of Austria.
Nevertheless, Jewish figures of the country, including students, academics and Holocaust survivors, already called in an open letter for Karner to be removed from office, accusing him of making antisemitic comments during a regional election campaign thirteen years ago, when he was a regional official with the conservative Austrian People’s Party, reports the Euronews.
According to German media, Karner then accused Austria’s Social Democrats of working “against the country with gentlemen from America and Israel” and carrying out a „dirty election campaign”.
According to those backing the open letter asking for his removal, the antisemitic nature of this comment is obvious. “We are convinced that this person is completely unsuited to the office of interior minister and call on the government to put our security in the hands of moderate politicians.”
Karner claims in a statement that fighting antisemitism and every form of extremism has always been a “deeply personal concern” of his. He regrets if his earlier comment was ambiguous, but strongly rejects allegations of antisemitism: “The comments were never in any way intended to go in this direction, and I would not make them now.”
Karner said he arranged a personal meeting with Austria’s main Jewish leader, Oskar Deutsch, to discuss the matter at hand.