Austrians can swear at their politicians, top court rules

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VIENNA: Austria’s top court has ruled that Austrians have the right to swear and make insulting gestures at their leaders.

Left-wing activists had posted a video on social media abusing and insulting Austria’s Vice-Chancellor and the leader of Right Freedom Party (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache. The vice chancellor sued the activists as he saw it as defamation of the state and a public insult.

The top court upheld a previous decision by the lower court, saying that Austrians can express “provocative and shocking” political opinions, that it is a “fundamental part of freedom of expression.”

“Because we stand in solidarity with refugees and Muslims we abuse him,” one activist explained.

On the other hand, Austria’s national broadcaster, the ORF has sued the FPÖ leader for libel over his accusation against the broadcaster that it was peddling “fake news, lies and propaganda.”