The Freedom party official responsible for an election poster campaign that urged love for all things good and Austrian rather than thieving Moroccans has apologised and had all the posters removed.
The slogan “Heimatliebe statt Marokkaner-Diebe” on the Freedom Party placards for local elections in Innsbruck translates as “Love of your home country instead of Moroccan thieves.”
The move comes after Morocco’s government lodged an official protest with the government in Vienna and prosecutors admitted that they were investigating the campaign for incitement of racial hatred.
The man behind the campaign, August Penz, head of the party in Innsbruck said over the weekend that all 33 posters have now been removed and added that he had not intended to insult anyone.
He said: “It was my idea and I must take full responsibility.”
But the controversial poster campaign is not the first time that the Freedom party has used similar tactics. Chicago’s mayor even complained about the poster campaign saying that Vienna should not end up like Chicago – referring to the era of Al Capone which the mayor said had not existed in the city for decades.
The FPOe, led by the charismatic Heinz-Christian Strache, is neck-and-neck in national opinion polls with Chancellor Werner Faymann’s Social Democrats, with Faymann’s federal coalition partners, the People’s Party, in third place.
The FPÖ is hoping to win seats in Innsbruck city council, where it is currently not represented, in local elections on 15 April. The next national vote is not due until 2013.
In January Strache provoked outrage after he had allegedly said that the “persecution” of members of the far-right attending a controversial Viennese ball made them “the new Jews.”