Youths kick furniture at Austrian church, no one hurt

VIENNA (AP) — A group of 30 to 50 youths gathered in a Vienna church earlier this week, kicking furniture but then dispersing after police were called, authorities said Saturday.

The incident drew condemnation from leading politicians at a time when nearby France has seen Islamic extremist attacks, one of them in a church.

The incident at the St. Anton church in Vienna’s Favoriten district happened on Thursday evening. It was reported a day later by the Kurier newspaper, which said investigators suspect the intruders were Turkish youths who had organized via social media.

Police said a priest called police when the youths started kicking the furniture, and that they dispersed in several directions before officers arrived. No damage was caused and no people were hurt or threatened, according to a police statement Saturday. The local branch of the domestic intelligence agency was looking into the matter.

The incident came at a time of heightened tensions over attacks in France and the French president’s vow to protect the right to caricature the Prophet Muhammad, a stance the Turkish president has assailed.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Friday night tweeted the Kurier report with the comment: “All Christians must be able to exercise their belief in Austria freely and safely! We will continue the fight against political Islam with determination and will show no false tolerance.”

In a separate incident, police said an Afghan man walked into Vienna’s cathedral, the Stephansdom, early Saturday morning and shouted unspecified “Islamic slogans.” Police said he left a “confused impression” and a medical examination was being conducted. Investigators searched the cathedral but found nothing untoward.

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