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FACTSHEET: Elisabeth Sabaditch- Wolff

Published on 3 June 2019

IMPACT: Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is a central figure in the transatlantic network of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam organizations and activists. She has co-organized the pan-European ‘Counter Jihad Movement,’ aligned with anti-Muslim activists and organizations in the U.S., and has been prosecuted for anti-Muslim speech.

Since 2007, Sabaditsch-Wolff has been a key member of the ‘Counter Jihad Movement,’ a self-titled “scene” or “collection” of authors, bloggers, think tanks, street movements, and campaign organizations all linked by “a common belief that the West is being subjected to takeover by Muslims.”

Sabaditsch-Wolff is a board member of the Wiener Akademikerbund (Viennese Academic Association, VAA), a conservative organization, whose speaker on Islam is right-wing Christian Zeitz. In April 2010, the VAA called for a repeal of the Prohibition Act of 1947, a law that prohibits Holocaust denial and belittlement of Nazi atrocities.

Prior to her work in the Counter Jihad Movement, Sabaditsch-Wolff held positions at the Austrian embassies in Kuwait and Libya, as well as in the Austrian ministry of foreign affairs. The daughter of an Austrian diplomat, Sabaditsch-Wolff has stated that her “interest in Islam” comes from “having been exposed to Islam from early childhood” and being “confronted with life under the Sharia.”

In October and November 2009, the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs FPÖ), a far-right party founded in the 1950s by Ex-Nazis, organized a multi-part seminar on Islam led by Sabaditsch-Wolff for party members. Sabaditsch-Wolff stated in the seminar that “Muslims lie to our faces every day . . . the Qur’an instructs them to do so,” and that Muslims are waging a secret Jihad via immigration and the demographic change of the population to spread Islam in Europe. She also described the Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile. As a result of her comments, in February 2011, she was convicted by the Vienna Regional Criminal Court for “disparaging religious doctrines.”  She appealed the conviction and brought it to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which ruled in October 2018 that calling the Prophet Muhammad a pedophile was not protected by free speech. In March 2019, the ECHR rejected Sabaditsch-Wolff’s final request for appeal.

Reporting in Die Presse in July 2011 states that Sabaditsch-Wolff managed the homepage of the “Netzwerk Karl Martell” (Karl Martell Network), which according to Austrian Professor of Oriental Studies Rüdiger Lohlker is one of the most active and internationally connected anti-Muslim blogs in Europe. According to the Network’s current leader Christian Zeitz, this network was planned to become a financial resource and international “coordinator of all organisations that work against the Islamization.”

Sabaditsch-Wolff’s anti-Muslim activities and speaking engagements feature extensively on the website ‘Gates of Vienna,’ within a section called ‘Elisabeth’s Voice.’ Gates of Vienna produces anti-Muslim commentary and features the work of Fjordman, who was heavily cited by Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 people in a campaign against the alleged Islamization of Europe.

In December 2010, Sabaditsch-Wolff addressed the Bloc Identitaire (a “French anti-immigrant coalition” and one of the most active organizations of the anti-immigrant and nationalist “New Right” in Europe) during its “Internationational Conference on the Islamisation of our Countries.” In her speech she stated: “When there are enough Muslims living in Europe — and it doesn’t have to be a majority of the population, just somewhere around fifteen or twenty percent — we will be living under Islamic law.”

In February 2011, Sabaditsch-Wolff addressed the anti-Muslim and racist English Defence League (EDL) in Luton, UK, in which she stated that “native Lutonians are living at ground zero of the attempted Islamic take takeover of England.” She also described former U.S. Member of Congress Allen West, who has referred to Islam as a “fifth column” and who in 2016 shared a meme that celebrated the extermination of Muslims, as “one of the most stalwart soldiers of the Counter Jihad.”

In 2019, Sabaditsch-Wolff toured Finland with British anti-Muslim activist Katie Hopkins, where they met Sebastian Tynkkynen, the vice chairman of the right-wing Finns Party, and spoke of “Muslim gang rapes.” Hopkins and Sabaditsch-Wolff currently have a “venue” titled ‘Katie and the Wolff’ on ‘Encounter Truth,’ a Texas-based “platform that brings you news from around the state, nation, and world to you [sic] from the people who are on the front lines living it,” including issues such as the “truth about Islam.”

Sabaditsch-Wolff has called the Dutch anti-Muslim politician, Geert Wilders, her “friend.” On her website ‘Save Free Speech,’ Sabaditsch-Wolff is seen posing with Wilders.  

Felix Strüning, the former managing director of the Stresemann Stiftung (‘Stresemann Foundation’) and its magazine Citizen Times, both of which have received funding from the U.S.-based anti-Muslim organization, the Middle East Forum (MEF), interviewed Sabaditsch-Wolff in October 2011 in Citizen Times about her anti-Islam activism. Strüning also presented alongside Sabaditsch-Wolff at an OSCE convening in November 2013 on “freedom of expression” and regarding Sabaditsch-Wolff’s legal case.

In October 2016, Sabaditsch-Wolff was knighted by Knights of Malta, a Catholic lay religious order established following the First Crusade that describes itself as “one of the oldest institutions of Western and Christian civilisation.”

Different organizations of the Counter Jihad Movement have attempted to co-opt the annual Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in order to “counter the Islamization of the OSCE.” Sabaditsch-Wolff has been part of this delegation since 2009, representing anti-Muslim organizations along with Buergerbewegung Pax Europa, International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA), Mission Europa, Wiener Akademikerbund, Center for Security Policy (CSP), and others. In September 2018, the CSP released a letter “expressing concerns” about OSCEs “attempts to shut down speech, especially on the threat of the totalitarian Islamic law known as Sharia.” Sabaditsch-Wolff was a signatory along with 27 others.

Sabaditsch-Wolff is well-connected to numerous U.S.-based anti-Muslim activists and organizations. She regularly speaks at events organized by organizations such as the anti-Muslim activist organization ACT for America, and has directed the Austria ACT for America chapter. In 2010, Sabaditsch-Wolff was a speaker at ACT for America’s National Conference, where she spoke about the “accelerating Islamization of Austria and the rest of the EU, and why it matters to the United States.” In June 2013, Sabaditsch-Wolff presented the “first annual ‘Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff Profiles in Courage Award’” to Allen West. In April 2016, she spoke at an event organized by the ACT for America Dallas chapter. With an introduction by West, Sabaditsch-Wolff described Muslim immigrants and refugees in Europe as an Islamic hijra, or migration into infidel lands to advance the cause of Islam,” and that “once enough Muslim migrants have settled in the target country, violent jihad can begin.”

In March 2011, Sabaditsch-Wolff met with Donald Trump and anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney (who calls her his friend), where she was speaking at the launch of The United West, an anti-Muslim organization, in Miami, Florida.

In February 2010, the Freedom Defense Initiative (now known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative), a U.S. anti-Muslim organization established in early 2010 by anti-Muslim activists and bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, organized a panel at (but not part of) the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Sabaditsch-Wolff presented on the panel alongside, among others, Allen West.

In March 2017, Sabaditsch-Wolff delivered a speech at a pro-Trump rally in Denver, Colorado. In her speech she talked about “the introduction of Sharia into our societies.” In August 2016, Sabaditsch-Wolff spoke at an American Freedom Alliance conference where she claimed Muslim immigration and “Islamization” in Europe have caused “everyday occurrences in Austria, in Germany, and all over the place” of “molestation and rape

In an undated video, Sabaditsch-Wolff was interviewed by CBN News “The Watchman,” a television program hosted by Erick Stakelbeck, a former analyst at the anti-Muslim Investigative Project on Terrorism. During the interview, she described Muslim immigrants and refugees to Europe as “an invasion” and stated, “it’s filthy wherever these people go.”

In December 2018, Sabaditsch-Wolff was interviewed on Fox News with anti-Muslim host Jeanine Pirro. Sabaditsch-Wolff discussed her legal case and prosecution for anti-Muslim hate speech.

Sabaditsch-Wolff has featured in multiple podcasts on “Secure Freedom Radio” with Frank Gaffney, the former head of the CSP (March 2013, September 2013, September 2017, October 2018, and December 2018). She spoke negatively of Muslim immigrants and refugees while on a CSP panel in May 2018 in Dallas, Texas, alongside Katie Hopkins and Raheem Kassam. In 2013, Sabaditsch-Wolff met several U.S. Members of Congress in Vienna: Rep. Louie Gohmert, who in 2010 referred to Muslim infants born in the United States as “terror babies”; Rep. Steve King, who is a white supremacist; and Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has referred to the “mass migration” of Muslims to the U.S. and Europe as a “planned invasion” for the “specific purpose of destroying Western Christendom.”

In March 2017, Sabaditsch-Wolff briefed then-Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach, who had recently advised then-U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on anti-Muslim immigration issues, stating that Muslim migration to Western Europe has resulted in “no-go zones” and “violent rapes and assaults,” as well reproducing antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros.

Sabaditsch-Wolff’s legal cases have been covered by various U.S.-based anti-Muslim organizations, including FrontPage Magazine (in December 2011 and July 2013, Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch, the Center for Security Policy, and the Gatestone Institute. Daniel Pipes, who directs the Middle East Forum, described EHCR’s ruling as having “effectively applied the #Shariah.” Pipes has also called Sabaditsch-Wolff a legitimate critic of Islam, and Wilders has also supported her case.

In December 2010, as detailed in her own reporting as a correspondent for anti-Muslim outlet Breitbart News, Sabaditsch-Wolff served as a translator and attended a delegation to Israel comprised of politicians from far-right parties of Europe, including the Austrian FPÖ, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang, the German Die Freiheit (Freedom Party) and the Swedish Democrats. This trip culminated in the signing of the Jerusalem Declaration, which is the first historical document that manifests the strategic shift of European right-wing parties from antisemitism to Islamophobia to mobilize Jewish people and Israeli politicians to join their fight against the alleged Islamization of Europe.

Last updated: May 14, 2019

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