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Dec 12 2018

Turkey blasts Austria for banning Turkish nationalist and Islamist symbols

The Turkish Foreign Ministry strongly condemned on Wednesday a new law adopted in Austria which prohibits certain nationalist and Islamist symbols used by Turkish nationals.

The ministry welcomed Austria’s decision to include in the law,  which is an amendment to the 2014 “Symbol Act,” symbols used by the members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey since 1984 and is designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and the European Union.

“On the other hand, the said law includes the “bozkurt” (“Grey Wolves”) sign, which is a symbol of a legal political party in Turkey and the “rabia” sign that is widely used by Muslims in many countries as well as in Turkey. We do not accept this and we strongly condemn it,” the ministry said in its written statement.

The ministry said that the grey wolves and rabia symbols were not even remotely related to extremism, adding that Vienna’s decision was a political and populist manoeuvre, instead of a sincere struggle against extremism.

“If the Austrian authorities sincerely wish to tackle extremism, they should first look to their own country,” the ministry said, advising the Austrian authorities to stop turning a blind eye to the ever-increasing extreme right and racist tendencies in Europe and to do some soul-searching.

The Rabia has been a trademark of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since 2013, after the government of Muslim Brotherhood was toppled down by a military coup in Egypt. Islamists in Egypt used the gesture during protests against the coup. Erdoğan uses the symbol in all of his mass rallies.

The grey wolves sign is widely associated with a nationalist youth organisation that engaged into street battles against leftists in the 1970s. The organisation today is affiliated to far right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP),  ally of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).