The letter expressed outrage that "now, a Rabbi was this weekend assaulted in Vienna by, reportedly, neo-Nazi soccer fans IN FRONT OF POLICE OFFICERS.
Samuels cited Rabbi Hoffmeister, who described how he was accosted "by fans on their way to a soccer game, who yelled 'Move, Jew - Jews Out - Heil Hitler', accompanied by the Nazi salute", continuing "most shocking is to note that police witnesses refused to intervene, claiming with a smile, that 'it's just soccer!'"
Samuels highlighted his presence at EURO 2012 and the Centre's activity in Latin America. "Indeed, our protest at fan racism in Buenos Aires led to the AFA (Argentine Football Federation) disqualification of points won by the Chacarita Juniors Football Club.
This red flag penalty against hate is to be presented to FIFA and a European Parliament directive is to be adopted by the PARLATINO (Latin American Parliament). It should also be an example for Austrian football."
The letter pointed to the attack on Rabbi Hoffmeister and the police indifference as "arguably an Austrian violation of its obligations under EU and Council of Europe anti-discrimination provisions."
The Centre shared the letter with the OFB (Oesterreicher Fussball Bund), "urging that - in cooperation with the Ministry - disciplinary measures be taken, including penalties to be applied to the team supported by the delinquent fans and the prosecution of the bystander policemen."
"Law enforcement cannot be neutral in the face of hate-crime. This is too reminiscent of the 1938 Kristallnacht Reichspogrom in Austria. A policeman who betrays the victim is accomplice to the perpetrator", concluded Samuels.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.
For further information, please contact Dr Shimon Samuels at +33.609.7701.58