Europe’s far-right parties are set to contest next year’s European elections on a common manifesto, according to French National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
At a press conference in the Strasbourg Parliament on Wednesday (23 October), Le Pen, flanked by Franz Obermayr of the Austrian anti-immigration Freedom party, told reporters that she was hopeful of persuading nationalist candidates from across the EU to run on the ticket of the European Alliance for Freedom (EAF).
Austria’s far-right Freedom Party gained over one-fifth of the votes in Sunday’s general election, while the ruling two-party centrist coalition got its worst-ever result. The swing comes amid a Europe-wide surge in support for the far right.
Though Austria’s two major centrist political parties, the conservative Popular Party and the center-left Social Democrats, have retained their majority in parliament, the resurrection of the far-right in Europe is a solid tendency marking a shift in the political mentality of Europeans.
Euroskeptic and right-wing parties in Austria have gained support from people who think the issues that matter most to them aren’t being addressed.
The extreme, radical right is drawing mass support from working-class, blue-collar voters, Sylvia Kritzinger, a political scientist at the University of Vienna, tells RT’s Peter Oliver. “Because of the policies they put forward, like immigration reform, anti-European integration, anti-corruption in the political system.”
The Viennese people Peter Oliver talked to are certain they want to “slow down immigration,” stop the EU “dictating everything” and “put Austria’s interests first.”
The leader of the Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache [pictured], insists he is not a racist. “I love Austria, I don’t hate foreigners,” he says.
FPÖ leader Strache
The southern Austrian state of Carinthia was long a source of inspiration for right-wing populists across Europe. As early as 1989, the Freedom Party of Carinthia (FPK) briefly nabbed the governor’s mansion in the state. In 1999, the right-wingers – behind the charismatic leadership of Jörg Haider – emerged victorious in state elections once again, and have managed to hold onto the state since.
Until Sunday, that is. In a key state election seen as a bellwether for the Austrian general election approaching in September, Carinthian voters delivered a painful blow to the FPK, the state chapter of the national Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Sunday evening exit polls indicated that the FPK managed a mere 17.1 percent of the vote – a veritable collapse since their 45 percent result four years ago. It was the largest vote-on-vote disintegration ever seen in postwar Austria.
The International Civil Liberties Alliance and its supporters continue to post material from the ICLA meeting at the European Parliament earlier this week.
A video of EDL leader Stephen Lennon’s speech is now online. Not that it provides any fresh insights into the mindset of this whining, self-pitying little bigot, although it does underline the fact that he’s a lying toerag. Lennon got a round of applause for his claim that the EDL repudiates the neo-Nazis of the National Front (“Islamism and Nazism, opposite sides of the same coin to us”). You can only suppose his audience was unaware of the EDL’s joint demonstration with the NF in Newcastle last month during which they launched a violent attack on a peaceful anti-Jubilee party.
Assisting “Tommy” with the microphone in the above screenshot is Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, who was convicted on a charge of anti-Muslim hate speech in Austria last year. Another participant was Lars Hedegaard, whose own conviction for inciting hatred against Muslims in Denmark was recently overturned on a technicality. Hedegaard was presented with the ICLA’s “Defender of Freedom Award” at the meeting in recognition of his role in stoking Islamophobia.
Another speaker, whose warning to the meeting on the dangers of sharia (“Freedom of religion, if it means that any form of religion can have its way, is a recipe for civil war”) is being enthusiasticallypromoted on the ICLA website, was Hans Jansen, a man who openly advocates the use of violence against Muslims. No doubt he and Lennon found they had a lot in common.
Lars Hedegaard reports that the room for the meeting was booked by the Belgian far-right party Vlaams Belang, which recently made the news when some of its members were accused of intimidating children during an anti-halal protest at a school barbecue.
It would be difficult to assemble a more poisonous collection of European Islamophobes.
Austria has had a checkered history when it comes to relations with Muslims, but its 100-year-old Law on Islam is seen as a symbol of tolerance. The law gives Muslims the same rights as other officially recognised religions in Austria, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, Judaism and Buddhism.
At the weekend senior members of the Austrian government and the country’s Islamic Community attended ceremonies to mark the centenary.
The Law on Islam, described as unique in Europe by members of the Austrian Islamic Community, guarantees Muslims in the country wide-ranging rights including religious education in state schools, administration of internal affairs and public worship.
In a speech at Vienna’s neo-Gothic town hall, the head of Austria’s Islamic Community, Fuat Sanac, described the law as an example for the rest of Europe. Islam in Austria, he said, was seen by most people as an enrichment, not as a danger.
BBC News, 3 July 2012
See also “Austrian President: We are very proud to have recognized Islam for 100 years”, Today’s Zaman, 25 June 2012
Opportunistic words of love for Jews and Israel cannot disguise the European far right’s toxic rhetoric of hatred, writes Ann Karpf.
Guardian, 28 March 2012
Yes, really. That’s what Heinz-Christian Strache states in an interview with RT. His objection, apparently, is only to “radical Islamist trends”. Can’t see this going down too well with the international “counterjihad” movement. Hasn’t Strache grasped that Islam is a “religion of war”?
In fact, Strache goes on to say he’s in favour of a ban on minarets and the niqab, along with the wearing of headscarves by state employees. He also claims that European nations will “disappear politically and demographically” unless they recognise the urgent need for “the preservation of European folk culture”. No prizes for guessing where Strache might think the political and demographic threat comes from.
Islam in Europe draws our attention to a interview with Alexander Gaisch, the police chief in the Austrian city of Graz, which was published in the Kleine Zeitung under the headline “We will be slowly infiltrated”.
Asked if a planned Islamic centre in Graz could become “a hotbed of radicalisation”, Gaisch replies:
“In the worst case. There will never be an obvious radicalisation. Swordsmen will not be coming, we will be slowly infiltrated. This population group has more children, a different lifestyle. They are doing this quite cleverly with a building in which many people can be accommodated. It will be more than a mosque: a cultural, social centre with a kindergarten.”
The Kleine Zeitung also reports that Gaisch’s comments have been condemned by the Social Democrats and Greens.
A right-wing Austrian politician has been cleared of incitement after he created an anti-Muslim computer game as part of an election campaign.
Freedom Party deputy Gerhard Kurzmann used the game in his failed bid to become governor of the south-eastern province of Styria last year.
Players of “Bye-bye, Mosque” had to shoot at Muslims and mosques as they emerged from a rural scene. The game sparked sharp criticism from other parties and religious groups.
Judicial authorities forced the Freedom Party to take down the game and Mr Kurzmann was later charged with inciting religious hatred and defaming a religion.
But on Friday a court in Graz cleared Mr Kurzmann. “It did not reach the threshold of incitement and I would also say this was not the intention,” Judge Christoph Lichtenberg said, in remarks carried by the national APA news agency. The prosecution said it would lodge an appeal.
The Freedom Party said the ruling showed that “the question of whether mosque-building should be banned is being discussed all over Europe and that it is a completely legitimate debate”, Reuters news agency reported.
Less than 2% of Styria’s population is Muslim and the province has no mosques with visible minarets, APA said.
The Freedom Party is Austria’s biggest opposition party. It argues for Islamic face veils and mosques with minarets to be banned.
BBC News, 14 October 2011
Austrian authorities say hate crimes by the extreme right spiked 28 percent last year.
In its 2010 report on criminality, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it recorded 580 hate crimes by far rightists, including “xenophobic/racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic as well as other acts.” The report says that compares to 453 such crimes in 2009. It says 48.6 percent of such crimes were successfully investigated, compared to 44.2 percent in 2009.
Islamophobia has grown in recent years in Austria, in addition to stubborn anti-Semitic sentiment on the part of some citizens. The rightist Freedom Party, which includes fringe neo-Nazi supporters, has exploited such anti-Muslim feelings to gain popularity.
Associated Press, 27 September 2011