Preamble: I said I was going to rethink this blog. Still haven’t gotten round to it, but couldn’t resist temptation to blog this….
Ah, the good old Daily Mail. Always there when there’s a story to be told on how Muslims are taking over the world and destroying traditional ways of life. Usually quite happy to use the weirdest angles to connect anything German or Austrian to the Nazis or to revel in the gory of the Fritzl story, this time they are sympathetic to an Alpine dweller: it denounces the alleged plight of a 63-year old pensioner in Graz, Austria, as further proof for political correctness gone mad. According to the Mail, Helmut Griese was fined £700 for yodelling during muslim prayer time, thereby upsetting his Muslim neighbours (Istyosty Proxy link). Well, that might be a bit crass if this were actually so, but it is the Daily Mail we’re talking about, so a closer look is necessary.
The DM story refers to the Krone Zeitung, which is an Austrian Rag that is to quality journalism what used toilet paper is to a napkin, and has a similar attitude to foreigners and anything that is different from pickety fency conservatism as the Daily Mail. Its stories thus cannot be taken at face value.
Lo and behold, when looking around on the web to find some more info, I stumbled across a blog that sought to set the story straight. Kobuk AT states that the fine was the result of a year-long campaign of disturbances by the OAP, and that he would time his Friday yodelling practice with the Muslims call to prayer. Apparently, according to the court papers submitted (although Kobuk is vague on the details), Griese also used other methods of disruption. Basically, it sounds like one man hassling his neighbours because he doesn’t like them and their call to prayers, and instead of talking to them or calling the police, he decides to torment them. Ah, neighbours, gotta love them.
Kobuk goes on to report that the Muslims tried to reason with Griese and stopped broadcasting the call to prayer over loudspeaker. When that didn’t stop Griese, they turned to the police, who, after repeatedly warning off Mr Griese, did not have a choice but to take the matter to court (something to do with Austrian law). The case was settled after Griese agreed to pay the €800 fine (so the court didn’t actually sentence him, but that’s nitpicking).
Unfortunately, I don’t know where to find official court material in Austria to verify the Kobuk statements. It appears from the discussion in the forum on the website that this was obtained by phoning the court and asking for clarification (i.e. good old journalism).
The fact that the Kronen Zeitung has removed the story from its pages lends support to the veracity of Kobuk’s portrayal of the story.
But of course, it would be too much for the Daily Mail to do anything but translating the original article in the Krone Zeitung (bits and pieces of the now offline article were posted in various fora, and the DM article is a close enough translation of these). They’re probably to busy oggling cleavages and checking for dimples in thighs or something. So much more interesting than checking facts…