Four cityline bus drivers from Turkey were laid off by the Vienna Municipality for gesturing the “Grey Wolf” sign, a sign that’s used by Turkey’s nationalist movement but was banned by the Austrian legislature as an effort to “combat extremism.”
The four drivers were let go after getting caught on surveillance footage while joking around and signing the “Grey Wolf” gesture in a kitchen at the bus terminal, Vienna’s Cityline Spokesperson Christoph Heshmatpour said.
The employees in the footage who were with those signing the “Grey Wolf” but weren’t gesturing it themselves are also under investigation, Heshmatpour added.
“The Grey Wolf”
Often associated with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the “Grey Wolf” sign is formed by putting the thumb, middle and ring fingers together above the palm and raising the index finger and the pinky in the air as to imitate a wolf’s ears.
MHP founder Alparslan Türkeş once said that the pinky represents the Turkish while the index finger represents Islam.
“The gap in the middle of the fingers is the world, the point where the three fingers meet is the seal. We will imprint the entire world with the Turkish-Islam seal…”
In origin Turkish mythology, the grey wolf is considered the embodiment of strength, wisdom and power.
The “Symbols Law”
Austria’s government forbade the use of the “Grey Wolf” Dec. 11, 2018 with an amendment to a 2014 “symbols law.” The sign became a punishable offense with fines up to 4,000 Euros.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry released an official statement where they praised the legislature for banning hand gestures associated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that Ankara, the E.U. and Washington deem a terrorist organization.
The statement however “strongly condemn”ed the ban of the “Grey Wolf” and the “Rabia,” the symbol of the Muslim Brotherhood and often used by supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP).
“These political and religious symbols are not even remotely related to extremism,” said the Foreign Ministry.