“I’m hoping for a crib death,” one user wrote on Facebook. Another one said, “Does the woman have cancer? Or why does she have to wear an Islamic misogynist headscarf?”
New York Times Within hours of her birth, 47 minutes into 2018, little Asel had attracted the attention of her home city, Vienna, as the Austrian capital’s “New Year’s Baby.”
But instead of good wishes from the citizens who read her birth announcement, splashed across Austrian newspapers on New Year’s Day, the little girl and her family were greeted with a wave of anti-Muslim disgust and hatred.
Public announcements of “New Year’s Babies,” complete with images of beaming parents holding their offspring born shortly after New Year’s Eve, are an annual mainstay of newspapers throughout the German-speaking world.
But internet rights and refugee support groups say they had never seen a wave of hate directed at an infant to compare with the one that met Asel and her parents, identified by the newspaper Heute as Naime and Alper Tamga.
In the first hours of her life, this sweet girl was already the target of an unbelievable wave of violent, hateful online commentary,” Klaus Schwertner, secretary general of the Vienna chapter of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, wrote on his Facebook page.
“It is a completely new dimension of online hate, targeting an innocent newborn,” he said. In #Austria, the baby Asel, the first baby born in 2018 in #Vienna, received hundreds of hate messages because his mother is veiled: “I hope that this “Dirt” will die quickly”
Many of the comments that filled the social media pages of Austrian media outlets that carried the picture of Asel’s family, released by the Vienna Hospital Association, also targeted the baby’s mother, whose smiling face was encircled by a bright pink head scarf.
“I’m hoping for a crib death,” wrote one user. “Deport the scum immediately,” read another posting to Heute’s Facebook page, it reported on Thursday.
Some users drew a parallel between the online uproar over the image of the young Muslim and the entry of the far-right Freedom Party into the country’s new right-leaning government, sworn in weeks before her birth.
Both the Freedom Party and the conservative People’s Party of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz campaigned on anti-Muslim immigrant platforms, and the new government has vowed to cut monetary benefits to refugees and curb illegal immigration.
“A certain stereotype about Muslims has become increasingly common on social media,” Ms. Unterlechner said in a telephone interview from Vienna. “Whether refugees or those wearing head scarves, there is no differentiation, but anyone appearing to be Muslim is cast as an enemy of our culture.”