(Corrects first name of Freedom Party leader to Heinz-Christian
from Hans-Christian in fifth paragraph)
VIENNA Feb 1 Nine protesters have been arrested
for civil disorder in demonstrations against a right-wing ball
in Vienna's imperial Hofburg Palace, Austrian police said on
More than 2,500 joined protests against the Academics' Ball
on Friday night which was hosted by Austria's far-right Freedom
Party and has in the past attracted right-wing icons such as
France's Marine le Pen.
Police had closed off a large area around the palace, which
contains several museums and the office of the Austrian
president, ahead of the protests by mainly green and left-wing
student groups, after clashes at the event last year.
Two of the 780 ball-goers were slightly hurt, on Saturday.
Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the Freedom Party, caused
outrage last year when he said right-wing sympathisers who had
been intimidated by protesters as they arrived at the ball could
be considered the "new Jews".
The ball, one of hundreds that take place in Vienna every
January and February, has split Viennese society, with some
arguing that anyone should be allowed to organise such an event,
while others say it legitimises extreme right-wing views.
Austria, which was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938, has
laws that ban Nazi symbolism and prevent the establishment of
Strache recently announced that he would not attend this
year's Academics' Ball, saying he planned to be on holiday.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Jon Hemming)