Vienna (AFP) - Austria rejected Friday registering Jews who want to purchase kosher meat after a far-right politician proposed introducing stricter controls on ritual slaughtering to reduce the practice citing animal rights.
Gottfried Waldhaeusl, a cabinet minister of Lower Austria and member of the Freedom Party (FPOe), made headlines this week when he called for controls, including registration, to rein in the slaughtering of animals without first stunning them.
But Austrian government spokemsan Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said the country would "protect the freedoms and fundamental rights of our Jewish fellow citizens and can assure that they will be upheld and in no way limited".
"The Austrian Federal Government rejects any form of personal registration in connection with the purchase of kosher meat, such an idea is out of question and will certainly not take place in Austria," he tweeted.
Waldhaeusl had cited animal protection, saying registration was necessary to ensure ritual slaughtering was done only for those who show they belong to a religious community and need the meat.
Austria's Jewish and Muslim community groups condemned the proposal.
A coalition of the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right FPOe has governed Austria since December after winning votes on an anti-immigration platform.
On Thursday, a man was arrested after assaulting three people -- with at least one of them wearing Jewish headgear -- in Vienna.
Following the attack, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the OeVP said on Twitter that the government was doing "everything so that Jews can live safely in Austria and is determined to fight against any form of anti-Semitism".
The FPOe was founded by former Nazis in the 1950s but in recent years has sought to clean up its image, with its leader saying the party rejects all extremism.
But since its entry into government in December, the party has been embroiled in a string of controversies that critics say show it has not stamped out extremism.
In March, the FPOe expelled two local councillors for sharing Hitler photos and quotes on WhatsApp, and in January an FPOe candidate in a state election quit after it emerged that his student fraternity had published a songbook with lyrics joking about the Holocaust.