Haider Denied Holocaust Center Trip
http://www6.nytimes.com/aponline/i/AP-Canada-Haider.html (page does not exist)
By The Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Austrian right-wing political figure Joerg Haider, on an
unannounced private visit to Canada, was prohibited from touring Montreal’s
Holocaust Center on Wednesday.
Moshe Ronen, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said Canada’s
Jewish community was concerned about Haider’s unannounced visit and
questioned Haider’s motives in asking to tour the Holocaust center.
“Our advice to the museum was not to accommodate this bizarre request,”
Ronen said. “They did not accommodate the visit.”
Haider’s itinerary was unknown. Journalists gathered at the Ritz-Carlton
Hotel in Montreal, where he was believed to be staying, but there was no
comment from Haider or any associates.
Canada has downgraded relations with Austria over the inclusion of Haider’s
Freedom Party in the government. Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy
said Wednesday that Canada received no advance notice that Haider would be
arriving Tuesday night.
“Certainly there was no indication from the Austrian government or embassy
that he would be coming,” Axworthy said. “It is unusual but there is no
visa requirement for Austrian citizens so anybody can get on a plane and
arrive in Canada and if they have a proper passport they are given entry.”
Since Haider’s Freedom Party became part of Austria’s coalition government
on Feb. 4, several countries have protested. Israel withdrew its ambassador
from Vienna, and Israeli Interior Minister Natan Sharansky has banned the
populist leader from entering the country.
Haider has praised Adolf Hitler’s “orderly” economic policies and has
described SS veterans as honorable. He has since apologized for remarks
that specifically offended Jews, but many say that his anti-immigrant
rhetoric deliberately echoes Austria’s fascist past.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Haider would never
persuade the world that his views were not racist.
In a speech welcoming German President Johannes Rau to Israel’s parliament,
Barak said Haider’s attempts to calm Israel and the world about his
intentions did not deceive him.
“It was not the slips of the tongue that shocked us,” Barak said. “It
was the opinions, the true, racist and antidemocratic opinions that Joerg
Haider may try to refrain from expressing openly from now on.”