Austrian leader calls for parliamentary president to resign

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Martin Graf, a far-right deputy and third president of Austria's parliament, made remarks last week against a Jewish leader that sparked widespread criticism across Austria.

Vienna -- Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Wednesday called for a senior parliamentary official to step down for causing a furore over comments he made about the head of the country's Jewish community.

In an article published last week in Neue freie Zeitung weekly, Martin Graf, a far-right deputy and third president of Austria's parliament, accused Ariel Muzicant of "fostering anti-fascist leftist terrorism."

"I go on the assumption that a person who makes comments of this sort should resign over the consequences," APA news agency quoted Faymann as saying.

Graf's remarks against the Jewish leader sparked widespread criticism across Austria and even among members of other far-right parties.

Only the leader of Graf's Freedom Party (FPOe), Heinz-Christian Strache, came to his defence calling him a victim.

"Muzicant likes to think he is a moral and qualified authority on anything he believes is fascist and anti-Semitic," he added.

Graf, 49, who cannot be voted out of his parliamentary president role, has said he will neither apologise, nor resign over the matter.

He last attracted controversy when two members of his parliamentary staff said they would resign in July over accusations they placed an order for T-shirts and books carrying extremist slogans with a German online company.

Earlier this month, the chancellor condemned the Freedom Party for using anti-Semitic rhetoric during its campaign ahead of European parliamentary elections in June.

The party has also angered Christians and Muslims with campaign ads in which it calls for "The West in Christian Hands."


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