Conservative parties campaigning on an anti-Muslim migrant message are poised to win on October 15th and to form a coalition government. As even the largest parties in Austria begin to adopt right-wing (anti-Islam) populism on the eve of next week’s general elections, Muslims in the country are feeling more threatened. (Awwww)
Such a rightward swing in a country that has had centrist governments almost consistently since World War II could have repercussions across Europe, emboldening politicians who take a hard line on Islam and Muslim immigration.
Daily Sabah As Austrians grow more openly hostile towards Muslims, major political parties are deliberately brandishing anti-Muslim sentiments in the Catholic majority country ahead of October’s parliamentary election. A torch-lit procession of ultra-nationalists gathered recently on the outskirts of Vienna to listen to fiery speeches on the anniversary of a 17th-century victory over Muslim Ottomans.
“Today we have to defend our homeland again,” thundered the leader of the Identitaren movement. Nearly a third of Austrians told a recent survey they would not like to live next to Muslims – a higher figure than in Germany, France, Switzerland and Britain.
National newspapers warn of “spiraling refugee costs,” Muslim “rapists” and impending Islamist assaults, in response to a record influx of migrants and jihadist attacks across Europe.
Despite a largely successful integration model, traditionally centrist parties are tapping into these fears to win votes in the country of 8.75 million people. Encroaching on far-right territory, the popular new leader of the conservative People’s Party (OeVP), Sebastian Kurz (below), wants to slash migrant benefits and shut all Islamic kindergartens, which he says create “parallel societies.”
His party was instrumental in prohibiting foreign funding of mosques and pushing through a ban on the Muslim full face veil, due to enter into force in October. That paid off with the OeVP stealing top spot in opinion polls for the October 15 election. The far-right Freedom (FPOe) is now battling for second place with the Social Democrats (SPOe).
Not to be outshone, SPOe Chancellor Christian Kern kick started his campaign with a video of him chatting to disgruntled voters in a pub. “I’m not a racist but… it’s unacceptable that people wear burqas and I am afraid in my own country,” an agitated woman says.
“When parties address the issue of Islam, it’s always in a negative context,” said Vienna City councilor Omar al-Rawi who previously worked as integration representative for Austria’s Islamic Community, a key Muslim group.
Yahoo News After the bombshell election result in Germany that saw a far-right party enter parliament for the first time in 60 years, the next European country to go to the polls is neighbouring Austria.
The conservative People’s Party (OeVP) is currently topping the opinion polls as the country prepares to vote. Even this traditionally centre-right party, which governed in coalition with the left-wing Social Democrats (SPO) from 2007-2017, is taking a hard line against Muslim immigration and the Muslim community.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in Catholic-majority Austria with 700,000 Muslims now living in the country – twice as many as in 2001. In the capital Vienna, there are now more Muslim than Catholic children in state primary schools.
But many Muslims believe they are being increasingly discriminated against amid a backdrop of growing Islamophobia in the run-up to voting day on 15 October. In a recent survey, almost a third of Austrians said that they would not like to live next to a Muslim.
Sebastian Kurz, the People’s Party’s popular new leader, is campaigning to slash benefits for migrants and shut down Muslim nurseries. ‘We don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,’ Mr Kurz said earlier this summer.
His campaign website states the institutions ‘linguistically and culturally isolate children from the majority society and are an obstacle to them in the further course of life.’ He was also an instrumental force in bringing in the ban on burqas and niqabs in Austria, which will come into effect in October this year.
His party’s popularity has leapt under his leadership, spiking from 20-25% to a high of 35%. Such a rightward swing in a country that has had centrist governments almost consistently since World War II could have repercussions across Europe, emboldening politicians who take a hard line on Islam and immigration.
He already was known Europe-wide for shutting down the West Balkans route into the prosperous EU heartland for migrants.
The far-right Freedom Part (FPOe) is battling for second place with the Social Democrats, giving them their best ever chance of entering government.
Heinz Christian Strache (below), the party’s leader, has previously called for a law banning ‘fascistic Islam’ and prohibiting Muslim symbols, comparing the move to a current law banning Nazi symbols in Austria.
The FPOe claims that ‘Islam has no place in Austria’, and pledges to replace the country’s current ministry for integration with a ministry for the ‘protection of the homeland and dominant culture’.
‘Let us put an end to this policy of Islamisation, otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end.’ Strache said. ‘We need zero and minus immigration.’ The party’s website includes a statement from Mr Strache calling for ‘action against Muslims’ rights.’
The wildly popular “Bye Bye Mosque” video game which was quickly banned after it was released by the Freedom Party in 2010 as part of its bid for election into regional government in Austria’s second largest province, hit a raw nerve. If released today, it would be more popular than ever and likely would not be banned.
In the game, players must try to halt the erection of minarets and mosques using a “stop” sign. If a player fails to stop the construction, then bearded muezzins issue calls to prayer against an Alpine backdrop.
Back then, the FPO (Freedom Party of Austria) politician Gerhard Kurzmann was called on to appear in front of a court on October 14, charged with incitement relating to his role in creating the Moschee Baba [Bye Bye Mosque] flash game, shown below. The charges were dropped.