2,000 Gather in Haider Powerbase to Protest Far-Right
As many as 2,000 demonstrators gathered Saturday in the capital of Joerg Haider's southern Austrian fiefdom Carinthia to protest the far-right leader and the country's government, organizers said.
Some demonstrators had traveled from as far as France and Italy to join the protest, carrying banners stating that former Freedom Party head Haider "is Hitler".
Others attacked the presence of the party in the country's government.
Police in the town said that at least 600 people were present, while stressing there could have been more.
Members of Austrian opposition parties addressed the crowd, particularly condemning a speech made by Haider last week in which he declared that illegal immigration should be stamped out.
The Freedom Party is known both at home and abroad for its particularly blunt anti-immigrant stance.
The European Union cut off diplomatic ties with Austria after the Freedom Party joined a coalition government in February, but retreated from the measures last month after a panel of three "wise men" gave the government a clean bill of health.
Haider stepped down as official party head in May, but is still widely perceived to be pulling the Freedom Party strings -- KLAGENFURT, Austria (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)