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Austrian far-right politician resigns after Easter weekend poem causes outrage

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros  with AFP
Austrian far-right politician resigns after Easter weekend poem causes outrage

An Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) politician has resigned after writing a poem comparing migrants to rats.

Christian Schilcher — who is also the vice mayor of Braunau am Inn, the birthplace of Adolf Hilter — published the poem "Die Stadtratte" (the city rat) in a party newspaper over Easter weekend.

The poem talks about how migrants must adapt to the local way of life or go away and warns about the "mixing" of cultures and languages.

"Just as we live down here, so must other rats, who as guests or migrants, share with us the way of life or [they must] quickly hurry away!" says one verse.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (pictured, above) said he was outraged at the xenophobic poem published by his far-right coalition partners.

Kurz called the poem "disgusting, inhuman, and deeply racist," reported the Austrian news agency APA.

He added that the local FPÖ branch needed to distance itself and clarify the poem.

According to Austrian Der Standard, Schilcher allegedly wanted to "point out specific issues" but did not intend to "insult or hurt" anyone.

Schilcher resigned to his post and to the FPÖ "so as not to harm the party," said Heinz-Christian Strache who serves as Vice-Chancellor of Austria and head of the far-right party.

The publication of the poem coincided with the 130th anniversary of Hitler's birth in Braunau-am-Inn on April 20, 1889. Built in the centre of this locality on the German border, the dictator's birthplace was expropriated in 2016 by the Austrian state, which wants to control its use.

Austria's prosecutor said they were opening a preliminary investigation for "inciting hatred" following the poem's publication.

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Additional sources • Austrian press agency APA