Austrian firearm legislation liberalisation campaigner Dr. Georg Zakrajsek has been sentenced to five months in prison for claiming that Islam had declared war on the Western world.
The Vienna court ruled Mr. Zakrajsek, secretary general of the pro-gun Society for Liberal Gun Laws in Austria (IWÖ), was guilty of incitement and hate speech.
In December 2015, he posted to his website that “the Muslims have declared war on us all”, and added “our traitorous politicians determined to be on their side. They promote and facilitate terrorism. But we will fight,” Kurier reports.
Weeks before, the 77-year-old had written a post in which he described wearers of the full Islamic veil as “garbage bags” and Muslim men as wearing “pyjamas” and “scraggly beards”.
“I don’t want them to kill my fellow citizens and do so with impunity because our justice and our security agencies are now completely retarded,” he claimed and said, “it is Islam, ladies and gentlemen. And there is no dialogue with this Islam.” Zakrajsek said the people have no choice but to fight back, though did not mention violent action in his writing.
The posts were brought to the Vienna prosecutor by the local Green Party and after an investigation charges were laid. During the trial, the 77-year-old made no apologies for his statements saying that in the wake of the multiple terror attacks across Europe in 2016, “I see what I said was correct”.
“Why should not I write that?” Zakrajsek told the judge saying, “the occasion was the terrorist attacks, where followers of Islam took action”.
Judge Nicole Baczak also questioned the remarks in which he called full-face Islamic veils “garbage bags” to which Mr. Zakrajsek replied, “I’ve described them as garbage bags, as many people do, which is quite funny”. Judge Baczak disagreed saying, “You find that funny? We obviously do not have the same humour.”
The five-month sentence is now under appeal by Mr. Zakrajsek and his legal team as the sentence is not legally binding until the appeals process ends.
Austria has had a spate of hate speech trials in recent months. One of the most famous involved a former editor of the largest newspaper in the country, Kronen Zeitung. Journalist Christoph Biro is set to be tried this year over comments he made during the height of the migrant crisis in late 2015.
Another Austrian pensioner was also charged with hate speech in August last year. Like Zakrajsek, the 63-year-old in the case was unapologetic about his comments when he called migrant rapists “rats”.