Martin Sellner

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Martin Sellner
e
Martin Sellner at a demonstration in Austria in 2018
Personal information
Born (1989-01-08) 8 January 1989 (age 31)
Vienna, Austria
Nationality Austrian
Occupation Political Activist, Business Owner and YouTuber
YouTube information
Years active 2013–present
Subscribers 110 thousand (Martin Sellner)
30 thousand (streaming channel)
20 thousand (English channel)
Total views 22 million (Martin Sellner)
1 million (streaming channel)
30,000 (English channel)
Martin Sellner
Subscriber and view counts updated as of December 21, 2019.

Martin Sellner (born 8 January 1989) is an Austrian identitarian activist,[1] co-founder[2] and co-leader with Patrick Lenart of the Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (IBÖ, Identitarian Movement of Austria), a part of the broader European group Generation Identity (GI).[3][4][5][6] He was also the co-founder and co-owner with Lenart of Phalanx Europa, an identitarian clothing company where he also did graphic design.[7][3][8]

In March 2018, he was denied entry and deported from the United Kingdom.[9][10][11]

Biography

Sellner was raised outside of Vienna. He became involved in nationalist politics as a teenager, being part of Austria's neo-Nazi scene, although he has since disavowed Nazism.[12] Sellner is currently studying philosophy and law in Vienna.[3][13] He is Catholic and is married to American Catholic conservative YouTuber and author Brittany Pettibone.[14][15]

In 2008, he helped leading Austrian neo-Nazis hinder liberal demonstrations and made pilgrimages to memorial services for Wehrmacht soldiers.[6] In 2016 he stated that the rising popularity of Nazism is a failure of society.[6]

In Vienna in 2012 he founded the Austrian Identitarian Movement with a group of friends who were interested in national identity but dissatisfied with existing nationalist groups, considering them narrow-minded and lacking in style. He cited the actions of French activists at a mosque in Poitier as a major influence, and adopted the use of the lambda as an identitarian symbol from them.[16]

In April 2016, he disrupted a theatre performance of Elfriede Jelinek's piece about migrants seeking asylum, Die Schutzbefohlenen (The Wards),[17] along with around 30 members of his organisation, spilling fake blood.[18] The blood was meant to symbolize the "blood of Bataclan and Brussels".[19]

In February 2017, Sellner was involved in a fight in a Vienna U-Bahn station where he used pepper spray in what he described as self-defense against four hooded attackers. As a result of this incident, he was banned for carrying weapons including pepper spray for two years. The ban was in place for such a long period of time due to the ongoing trial in which he was charged with forming a criminal organization. After he was acquitted, it was finally lifted in March of 2019.[20][21]

Defend Europe

During the summer of 2017 Sellner was involved with Defend Europe, a group of activists who chartered a ship to monitor "NGOs accused of being accomplices of the smugglers and the trafficking of human beings" from Libya to Italy in connection with the European migrant crisis. The mission also had the stated intention to "destroy empty smuggling boats, so they are not recovered and reused by the smuggler mafias," and "if necessary, to save migrants in danger of drowning and making sure they get to the nearest non-European safe port." Sellner also stated that the mission was intended to put pressure on governments to take action to block further human trafficking across the Mediterranean.[22]

Near the coast of Libya the chartered ship, known as the C-Star, located an NGO vessel called the Aquarius which had been involved in transporting migrants across the Mediterranean. They contacted the vessel to advise them that they were being observed, as well as advising them of the laws they were suspected of violating. They followed the Aquarius for several days and during this time the vessel did not take any migrants on board. Finally the crew of the NGO vessel departed for Malta.[23]

While following the Aquarius the C-Star came into contact with another NGO ship known as the Golfo Azzurro and advised them to leave the area. The Libyan coast guard agreed with the crew of the C-Star that the presence of NGO ships in the area was encouraging human trafficking and putting lives at risk by encouraging migrants to set out from the Libyan coast in anticipation of being taken on board by the NGO ships.[24] The Golfo Azzurro was ejected from Libyan waters by the Libyan coast guard with the warning to "never come back," and the relevant NGOs were banned from Libyan coastal waters, resulting in the end of most of their activities.[24][25][26]

The Italian navy was deployed to check illegal activities by NGOs, and Italian and Maltese authorities arrested several of their vessels. The NGOs also reported a significant decrease in donations received.[26]

There were several attempts to disrupt the mission before, during and after the completion of the C-Star's activities, in connection with mainstream media coverage which implied that the activists wanted migrants to drown.[27][28][29] Governmental authorities attempted to prevent activists from boarding the C-Star and to prevent the vessel from entering the Mediterranean.[22][25] PayPal froze the account through which they had been accepting donations in June 2017, before the C-Star set out into the Mediterranean. Donations were refunded to the donors, and they subsequently set up a campaign on Kickstarter.[27] After the conclusion of the mission, Maltese authorities attempted to prevent the C-Star from making port on the basis that it was a "ship of hate."[22]

Sellner and other representatives of Defend Europe consider the mission a success, as there was a dramatic drop in migration as well as in deaths in the Mediterranean afterwards.[22] Defend Europe announced a 76% decrease in migrant departures in August 2017 compared with August of 2016.[26]

Arson attack

On 31 December 2017 Sellner announced on YouTube that his car had been destroyed in an arson attack while he was out of the country, interpreting this as an attempt by Antifa to silence him and others who would criticize mass migration and multiculturalism.[30] The police suspected a political motive, which led to the involvement of the Verfassungsschutz (anti-terrorism authorities) in the case. The Verfassungsschutz confirmed to Sellner that it was an arson attack, but did not confirm any knowledge of the perpetrators' identity.[31]

United Kingdom incident

In March 2018, Sellner and his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone were denied entry to the United Kingdom at Luton Airport on the grounds that their presence in the United Kingdom was not conducive to the public good.[32] Sellner intended to deliver an address at Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park.[33] They were denied entry, detained for two days and deported.[32][34]

Trial

Beginning on July 7 2018, 17 members of Generation Identity including Sellner went to court in Graz, Austria to face charges of inciting hatred and forming a criminal organization.[35] Based on a new law promoted by the European Union, the alleged hate speech was the basis for accusing the group of being a criminal organization. Specifically, in three incidents identitarians had displayed banners with slogans including "islamization kills," "Erdogan, take your Turks home" and "integration is a lie." They were also investigated for placing allegedly hateful stickers.[36] On 26 July 2018 the identitarians were acquitted of these charges,[37] although the prosecutor appealed to a higher court.[38] Harald Stefan, spokesperson for legal issues of the Austrian Freedom Party, made a statement praising the acquittal and questioned the value of the law under which they had been charged.[38] Generation Identity funds were frozen by the state during the trial and remained frozen pending the appeal.[38]

Two lesser charges resulted in convictions and fines, namely one charge of property damage on account of street chalking, as well as one count of assault.[38][39] The latter was in reference to an action at the University of Klagenfurt disrupting a course regarding integration of migrants into the labor force. Activist Luca Kerbl claimed he was seized by a faculty member while attempting to leave the classroom and was convicted of striking the faculty member in the stomach in what he says was an effort to escape.[40][41][42]

On 16 March 2019 Sellner announced that the acquittal had been upheld by a higher court.[43]

Christchurch shooter incident

On 25 March 2019 Sellner's apartment was searched by the Austrian police on the orders of the Graz prosecutor. His computer, mobile phone, all data storage devices and cash cards were confiscated. In January 2018 he had received a 1,500 Euro donation from Brenton Tarrant, the suspect in the Christchurch mosque shootings, although there was no evidence of any further connection between the two.[44][45][46] Sellner denied any involvement in the attacks and has never advocated terrorism.[47][48][46] Austrian authorities also announced an investigation into whether his organization could be banned, although they had just been acquitted twice of the charge of forming a criminal organization.[46] Eight identitarian bank accounts were frozen, along with further accounts belonging to Sellner and Patrick Lenart, and the prosecutor ordered the surveillance of several telephones as well as email and bank accounts.[49] Sellner considers the raids an effort to demonize him, in line with a broader societal taboo against patriotism and identitarianism.[46] According to Sellner U.S. authorities also canceled his permit to travel without a visa to the United States thus preventing him from visiting his American then-fiancée Brittany Pettibone.[50][14]

Sellner argues that the Christchurch shooter donated to his organization and other similar groups as part of a plan to demonize less radical figures and groups in order to encourage general radicalization in society. He cites Tarrant's manifesto in which he advocates "radicalizing public discourse by both supporting, attacking, vilifying, radicalizing and exaggerating all societal conflicts and attacking or even assassinating weak or less radical leaders/influencers on either side of social conflicts."[51] The manifesto further notes that the shooter has "donated to many nationalist groups and...interacted with many more,"[52] which Sellner interprets as bait meant to encourage the authorities to investigate those groups. In his view, Tarrant has been successful in that the mass media have responded by equating identitarians with terrorists.[47] However, none of the other groups which Tarrant donated to have been investigated for terrorism.[53]

On 18 June 2019, Austrian authorities raided two apartments, citing the same suspicions of creating a terrorist organization with the Christchurch shooter, although no new evidence had been uncovered. Sellner described one apartment as his own, and the other as belonging another unspecified individual. Police again seized both his cell phones and all data storage media. He considers this political repression and an attempt to damage his reputation and intimidate others with similar views.[54][55]

In response to nine complaints filed by Sellner, on 14 December 2019 it was reported that the Austrian high court had ruled both raids to be illegal. The supposed legal justification for the raids had come from the prosecutor in Graz, whose argumentation was in part "pure speculation" and even "incomprehensible." Investigations which had been carried out on identitarian finances were also ruled to be without legal basis. The prosecutor had accused the tax-exempt identitarian movement of evading taxes of over 100,000 euros and authorized access to their accounts, but no evidence was found of any financial offense, and their total taxes due if they had not been a non-profit organization would only come to 1,250 euros. The court upheld all of Sellner's complaints, including those regarding surveillance as part of the investigations, and ruled that the data gathered must be deleted and the possessions seized must be returned. However, the court did not invalidate the freezing of identitarian bank accounts, noting that at that point, Sellner and other identitarians were suspected of involvement in a terrorist organization. As of 18 December 2019 the accounts remain frozen.[56][57][49][58][59][53][60]

On 2 March 2020 Sellner announced that his possessions seized during the 2018 trial and the 2019 raids had been returned, as well as those of other identitarians. These included computers, cameras and phones.[61]

Phalanx Europa

Phalanx Europa was an identitarian clothing company founded in Austria in 2013 by Sellner along with Patrick Lenart, co-founder of the Austrian Identitarian Movement. Sellner characterized the purpose of the company as twofold: first, to participate in the identitarian counterculture, and second to become financially self-sufficient, as their activism would make it difficult for them to hold jobs.[8]

On 12 October 2019 Sellner and Lenart announced that they would be shutting down Phalanx Europa in Austria. They cited several problems with the Austrian federal authorities which made it impractical to continue the business in that country, including the freezing of bank accounts in connection with suspicion of founding a terrorist organization, as well as the seizure of customer data which was then sent to the press. However, they have located two activists in Germany who have agreed to continue the brand in that country.[8][62]

Views

Sellner is opposed to the replacement of white populations in Western nations with non-whites through immigration. He refers to this as The Great Replacement, borrowing a term from French writer Renaud Camus and considers it "the most important political issue today."[46] In his view Muslim immigrants intend to transform Europe into an Islamic state under sharia law,[63] and he supports encouraging remigration of the majority of non-white immigrants and their descendants from Europe back to their ancestral homelands by giving them incentives to leave. This could include cutting social welfare spending, banning the burqa and minarets, and banning preaching in foreign languages.[64] He agrees with the statements of German New Right thinker Götz Kubitschek that The Great Replacement could not have taken place if not for a "spiritual Great Replacement," which involved the loss of a positive identity for Europeans and the proliferation of nihilism and white guilt.[65]

Sellner argues for what he calls ethnocultural identity, meaning an identity which differs from that promoted by globalism in that it recognizes the importance of ethnicity, but differs from 20th-century nationalist and fascist thinking in that it does not depend entirely on genetics or ancestry. Instead it recognizes a further cultural element of identity, and in his view some immigrants can assimilate into such a culture without sharing the ethnicity of the majority.[66]

Sellner has criticized characterizations of identitarianism as "disgusting" by figures such as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, arguing that this is the type of language which Nazis historically used towards Jews and that it dehumanizes and encourages eradicating the target.[47]

In connection with his rejection of neo-Nazism, he rejects personal hostility towards immigrants or Jews, explaining that he feels "a kind of fatherly responsibility for young Austrian patriots not to let them go into these extreme subcultures that are driven by hate and crazy ideologies."[4] He further rejects any type of chauvinistic or imperialistic ideology, explaining that identitarians desire to preserve their ethnocultural identity, but do not mean to conquer or denigrate people of other cultures.[67]

The German art historian and cultural scholar Wolfgang Ullrich has suggested that there are connections between the worldview of Sellner and the theories of Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt.[68]

Deplatforming

Sellner reports that he has been deplatformed from 17 banks and 15 other services, including Patreon, GoFundMe and PayPal.[69][70] He has also been deplatformed from Facebook and Instagram, ostensibly on account of "hateful" posts, including pictures displaying the lambda.[71]

On 25 July 2018 Sellner announced that he was traveling to Hungary to open a bank account there. His accounts had been closed by numerous Austrian banks, including 14 up to that point in 2018 alone.[72]

On 5 June 2019 Sellner reported that his YouTube channel had been demonetized, meaning he can receive neither advertising revenue nor superchats from the channel. YouTube accused him of hosting "harmful or discriminatory" content which "calls for violence or hatred, particularly on the basis of protected characteristics."[73]

On 22 November 2019 Sellner tweeted that he had been deplatformed by a second email marketing service, the first having been Mailchimp. The service, who he declined to name, informed him that they could not explain the basis of their decision, as that would violate the confidentiality of their internal processes.[74][75]

On 15 January 2020 Sellner tweeted a photo of a letter from the Austrian bank DADAT informing him that they were closing his account with no explanation as to the cause. According to the tweet this is the fourth bank account of his which has been closed despite never being made public, and he assumes this is because of pressure from the prosecutor in Graz.[76] Sellner writes that in some cases bank employees informed him that the closing of his account was a political decision made by higher authorities, but he has never obtained any further explanation.[77] The following 17 banks are listed as having closed his accounts: Raiffeisen Bank, Bank Austria, Monese Bank, Ferratum Bank, Austrian Anadi Bank, N26 Bank, RevolutBank, Holvi Bank, Fidor Bank, Kontist Bank, Deniz Bank, Hello Bank, Tatra Bank, Oberbank, BUNQ, Tomorrow Bank, DADAT Bank. Sellner's list of 15 services which have banned him includes PayPal, Patreon, Facebook, Instagram, Gofundme, Kickstarter, Stripe, Bitpanda, Twispay, Go Cardless, Maxpay, Mollie, Mailchimp, Sendinblue, and Bitwala.[69][78][79]

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