VIENNA — Austrian authorities are investigating a cartoon on a rightist political leader’s Facebook page that critics say smacked of anti-Semitism by showing a repulsive fat banker with a large hooked nose and what appeared to be Star of David patterns on his cufflinks, an official said Tuesday.
The rightist Freedom Party has called criticism of the caricature politically motivated and said its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, denies the cartoon posted on his Facebook page Sunday was directed against Jews.
Strache accused his detractors of ‘‘trying to link me to something insidious’’ and said they were seeing Stars of David where there were none.
Still, the investigation could lead to legal action against those who were responsible for the cartoon.
Thomas Vecsey of the Austrian Prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that legal specialists will decide in the next few days whether to charge those responsible for the posting with incitement to religious or ethnic hatred, a criminal offense in Austria.
On Tuesday, Strache’s Facebook page showed a corpulent banker being fed delicacies by a figure dubbed ‘‘The Government.’’ A third figure at the table — thin, poorly dressed, and labeled ‘‘The People’’ — has a bone on his plate and looks on in dismay. The banker has a bulbous round nose but no patterns appear on his cufflinks.
The caricature appears intended to depict banks as profiting from Europe’s financial crisis while ordinary citizens suffer. However, critics who say they saw Sunday’s Facebook posting assert the nose then was hooked and that the cufflinks contained Star of David patterns.