By Can Erozden
Turkey on Wednesday condemned Austria’s move to ban the use of Rabaa sign, an anti-coup symbol, and Turkey’s nationalist “Grey Wolves” salute.
“We do not accept this and we strongly condemn it,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding: “These political and religious symbols are not even remotely related to extremism.”
The statement came a day after the law on amendments to the “Symbol Act” from 2014, prohibiting the symbols of extremist organizations in Austria, was adopted after the voting in the Austrian National Council.
Rabaa sign, a four-fingered hand gesture, became a world symbol for anti-coup protesters around the globe after it was first used by Egyptian protesters against a military coup staged to oust Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013.
"If the Austrian authorities sincerely wish to tackle extremism, they should first look to their own country. They should stop turning a blind eye to the ever-increasing extreme right and racist tendencies that have infiltrated even mainstream politics and take effective measures through an exercise of soul-searching,” the statement said.
“Yet, xenophobia and racism are phenomena that foreigners living in Austria unfortunately face on a daily basis. In a country with hundreds of thousands-strong Turkish community this situation disturbs the social peace and renders impossible the integration which local authorities attach importance," it added.
The Foreign Ministry called on Austria to “correct this mistake,” saying the “development is deeply offending Turkey and the Turkish community and Muslims in Austria."
The statement, however, welcomed the inclusion of the symbol of the PKK terrorist organization into the law.
"The inclusion of the symbols of the PKK terrorist organization into the law is a positive step in the right direction in the fight against terrorism, albeit a late one. We will closely follow how this particular part of the regulation will be implemented," the statement added.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.