15-16 February 2011
A verdict has been passed in the case of the controversial “Islam Seminar” taught at the party academy of the right-way Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Judge Bettina Neubauer dismissed the charge of hate speech, however has fined the presenter of the seminar 480 Euros for denigrating and slandering Islam, due to the instructor’s insinuation that the prophet Mohammed was a pedophile. The defense has announced its intention to appeal the ruling.
Furthermore, the Office of the Federal Chancellor announced the following day that it would be withholding 1045.45 Euros from the FPÖ’s party academy budget during the next round of funding for the party institutes. The Office of the Chancellor had calculated this to be the amount spent by the FPÖ’s party academy for the funding of the controversial “Islam Seminar.”
One year ago, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) was found to have been using state funds for an educational seminar on Islam in which the religion was equated with fanaticism and extremism. During the seminar in question, entitled “The Basics of Islam,” the speaker Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was quoted as having said that “Islam is hostile. The Koran is evil. Muslims hate us and are in a long-term war with us.” As a result of this, the responsible funding council has recently decided that the FPÖ will have to pay back the funds they received for the seminar, though the final decision will come from the Council of Ministers.
Despite the sum in question being estimated at only between 1000 and 3000 Euros, Klaus Nittmann, the director of the FPÖ educational institute at which at seminar was held, has stated that the party is ready to take the case to court. According to him, more than anything it is a “matter of principle.”