Austrian president condemns "anti-Semitic" cartoon

VIENNA Sun Sep 9, 2012 10:05am EDT

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's president condemned far-right Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache for posting a cartoon on his Facebook page that was widely seen as anti-Semitic, the Austria Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Heinz Fischer called it "the low point of political culture, which deserves to be universally and roundly condemned".

The cartoon portrays a fat banker with a hooked nose and six-point star buttons on his sleeve gorging himself at the expense of a thin man representing "the people".

Strache denied being anti-Semitic after the cartoon provoked an outcry and demands from the Jewish community that Austria's political establishment condemn the act.

In a speech at the opening of a festival in Linz, Fischer said Strache was playing on the remnants of anti-Semitism in Austria, whose Jewish population was decimated after the annexation of the country by Nazi Germany in 1938.

"To that one can only say in the clearest terms: No way," Fischer said.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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