A proposal by Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) official Gottfried Waldhäusl about the sale of kosher meat, which was published Tuesday in Wiener Zeitung (Attack on religious freedom?) is causing a storm in Austria. According to Waldhäusl, who has served in the provincial council of Lower Austria since March 22, only individuals who are registered as Jews and those who can prove that they regularly eat kosher should be able, through a special certificate, to purchase kosher meat in his district.
Waldhäusl claims he only wishes to protect animal rights in Austria.
The chances of the Freedom Party lawmaker’s proposal being approved are slim, partly because registering an individual religion violates their right to privacy in Austria. But that fact does not seem to calm the nerves of the President of the Austrian Jewish Community, Oscar Deutsch, whose comment on the proposal was: “What frightens me most is that we’re talking about lists again. And when they talk about a list of people who are allowed to purchase kosher meat, they actually talk about a list of Jews who live in a traditional way. It gives me stomach ache.”
FPÖ, which is a member of Austria’s ruling coalition government, is boycotted by Israeli officials despite the good relations between Israel and Austria. The party, whose post-war leader, Anton Reinthaller, was a former Nazi Minister of Agriculture and an SS officer.
The present FPÖ has variously been described as right-wing populist, national conservative, right-conservative, right-national, and far right. The party has traditionally been part of the libertarian camp, with individual members identify as national liberal cultural Germans, and national conservatives.