A far-right politician has lost an appeal in court against people publicly insulting him and raising their middle fingers.
Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of Austria's controversial Freedom Party, had accused members of the left-wing group Linkswende Jetzt (Left Now) of slander for the gestures which were made in a video.
The clip, which was uploaded to YouTube in September 2017, sees activists speak out against Strache's policies while raising their middle fingers and shouting "F*** Strache!"
Newsweek quotes the group as saying during the video:
Because we stand in solidarity with refugees and Muslims we say, 'F*** Strache.'
Because the anti-women politics of the FPO reminds me of the Mutterkkreuz of the Nazis, 'F*** Strache.'
In response to the video, Strache tried to claim that video was against Austria's defamation and disparagement laws, but lost an initial judgement in December.
The APA News Agency confirmed that Strache's most recent appeal had also been rejected by Vienna's Higher Regional Court.
The court ruled that the group had the right to express “provocative and shocking” opinions as it falls in line with a "fundamental part of freedom of expression".
David Albrich, a spokesperson for Linkswende, welcomed the decision from the court calling it "a victory both for freedom of speech and of the press".
Strache and the Freedom Party became a junior coalition partner in the Austrian government last year, working alongside Sebastian Kurz's ruling People's Party.
In a separate court case, Strache has seen a lawsuit filed against him, with the BBC reporting that he accused the Austrian network ORF of presenting false claims about him.
Newsweek state that he criticised the network and journalist Armin Wolf in a now-deleted Facebook post which read:
There's a place where lies become news. It's the ORF.
The best of fake news, lies and propaganda, pseudo-culture and forced licensing fees.
Regional and international. On TV, radio and the Facebook profile of Armin Wolf.
HT The Local