Even FPÖ draws line at member who compared Norway killings with abortion on demand

The Freedom Party (FPÖ) has decided to expel a member for his disputed statements regarding a recent massacre in Norway.

Werner Königshofer, who represented the right-wing party in the federal parliament in Vienna, compared the acts of Anders Behring Breivik with abortion on demand. The Tyrolean politician deplored the “death of millions of unborn children all over Europe.” Breivik killed at least 76 people by placing a car bomb in the city centre of Oslo last week before going on a shooting spree on a nearby lake island.

Königshofer did not only cause outcry with his theories about abortion on demand. Shortly after first details about the deranged mind of Breivik emerged, he claimed on his profile on social networking site Facebook: “The Islamic threat has struck Europe a thousand times more often.”

FPÖ Tyrol chief Gerald Hauser welcomed the decision to kick Königshofer out as a “correct and necessary step.” However, the expelled member of the federal parliament (MP) said he would appeal the decision of Strache and Hofer which still needs the green light by the party board.

Königshofer said he heard about the decision of the FPÖ leaders only in the media. The right-winger – whose Facebook profile has been taken offline in the meantime – was member of a far-right party which was officially prohibited for spreading neo-Nazi propaganda before he joined the FPÖ in 1987. Before publishing his statements regarding the tragedy in Norway, the Innsbruck-based politician was criticised over his Facebook page’s links with alleged neo-Nazis.

Austrian Independent, 29 July 2011

FPÖ politician faces legal action over mosque ‘game’

SCREENSHOT Moschee / FP… / WahlwerbungAustrian authorities have filed incitement charges against a right-wing politician for commissioning a video game that required players to target and stop mosques, minarets and muezzins as they pop up on a screen.

Prosecutors in the city of Graz accuse Gerhard Kurzmann of the far-right Freedom Party of commissioning the game as promotional material in the run-up to regional elections last year.

The game – called “Moschee Baba,” German for “See ya, mosque” – was posted online and sparked widespread condemnation.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they also have filed charges against Alexander S., the head of an unnamed Swiss advertising company, who allegedly designed the game.

A court date has yet to be set.

Associated Press, 25 May 2011

Austria: far-right anti-Muslim parties would win 42% of the vote in general election, opinion poll finds

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party or FPÖ would win the most votes if there were a general election this weekend, according to the results of a new opinion poll released on Friday.

The FPÖ would win 29 percent of the votes if there were a general election on Sunday, overtaking for the first time the Social Democrats with 28 pecent and the conservative People’s Party or ÖVP with 23 percent, according to a poll by the OGM institute on behalf of the daily Kurier.

The environmentalist Green party and another far-right party, the BZÖ, would each win 13 percent of the votes.

The current coalition government under Social Democrat Chancellor Werner Faymann, which took power in December 2008, is made up of the Social Democrats and ÖVP parties in a power-sharing deal.

AFP, 20 May 2011

Attacks on multiculturalism linked to economic crisis, IRR study finds

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) publishes today Understanding the European-wide assault on multiculturalism – a detailed analysis by Executive Director, Liz Fekete, of key speeches made over the past six months by leading centre-right politicians from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

These speeches attack multiculturalism and immigration and link them to the economic crisis. The IRR finds that:

  • In singling out multiculturalism as a threat to national identity, the leaders of Europe’s centre-right parties are using the same kind of rhetoric and specious arguments as Enoch Powell did forty years ago. Only this time, it is not one rogue European politician carrying the flag, but the leaders of centre-right parties now replacing race and immigration with culture and religion as the watch words.
  • As multiculturalism becomes code for discussing the ‘Muslim problem’, the language, terms and metaphors used by centre-right politicians subtly (and in some cases crudely) convey a sense of national victimhood, of a majority culture under threat from Muslim minorities and new migrants who demand special privileges and group rights and refuse to learn the language.

In Understanding the European-wide assault on multiculturalismthe IRR warns that:

  • The attacks on multiculturalism are taking place at a time of economic crisis and swingeing cuts, when politicians are desperate to deflect public anger and explain societal break down. The centre Right is establishing a narrative, with some centre-left parties following suit, to justify the biggest round of spending cuts since the 1920s, blaming the current economic crisis not on the bankers and global financial crisis, but on immigration, and on Muslims.
  • As the extreme Right increasingly enters national parliaments, sometimes holding the balance of power, there are dangerous signs that the centre Right is preparing for future power-sharing with the extreme Right, as well as nativist anti-immigration parties. The fact that mainstream politicians are now speaking to the fear and hatred promoted by the extremists’ anti-multicultural platform, is giving legitimacy to conspiracy theories about Muslims and to anti-Muslim hatred.

Read the IRR’s research Understanding the European-wide assault on multiculturalism here.

IRR press release, 21 April 2011

Austria: Muslim women often victimised for wearing headscarves, report says

More and more headscarf-wearing women are becoming victims of racist attacks, according to an organisation’s annual report.

Civil courage and anti-racism institution ZARA said yesterday (Mon) it had been informed of 745 cases of racist abuses in Austria last year, around 50 fewer than in 2009. The organisation – which stressed that the actual number of offences is much higher – emphasised that the number of verbal abuses of devout Muslims wearing headscarves was on the rise.

ZARA explained Muslim women were experiencing difficulties applying for jobs in Austria if they are unwilling to remove the scarf during working hours. The organisation claimed these developments were primarily not based on racist tendencies among businesspeople, but their concerns that the number of clients may decline if a headscarf-wearing woman was hired.

Another aspect ZARA is emphasising in its 2010 report is “reckless” and often anonymous posting of racism-fuelled messages on social networking sites. The Vienna-based organisation said the fight against such actions was becoming more difficult since notes have often been read and passed on by many people before they get removed.

Muslims, Afro-Americans and members of the Jewish community in Austria are the main groups experiencing day-to-day racism in Austria, according to ZARA. The institution also criticised the country’s police for carrying out more so-called ethnic profiling in which black people and members of other minorities are being questioned and asked for their IDs only because of their origin and skin colour.

ZARA’s announcements come shortly after a poll revealed that fewer than one in five Austrians think of ethnic minorities as a group in need of protection. Magazine profil reported that just 18 per cent of Austrians think ethnic minorities deserve more protection.

The survey – carried out by research firm Karmasin – also showed that two in 10 Austrians said the same about migrants and asylum seekers. A meagre 13 per cent of Austrians told the pollster that religious minorities should get more protection in the country.

Another recent Karmasin survey revealed that, with 49 per cent, nearly one out of two Austrians consider asylum seekers as “generally dishonest”. Karmasin reported that a majority of 53 per cent agreed with the claim that people applying for political asylum in Austria “are more criminal than other social groups”.

Researcher IMAS found some months ago that 42 per cent of Austrians think immigrants receive more preferential treatment by authorities than themselves.

Austrian Times, 23 March 2011

Via Islam in Europe

Heinz-Christian Strache wants to build links with Tea Party

The head of Austria’s far right Freedom Party says he wants to meet with representatives of the ultraconservative U.S. tea party movement.

Heinz-Christian Strache described the movement as “highly interesting” and claims his party has received and will accept invitations from the United States.

Strache made the comments in an interview with Austria’s Die Presse newspaper published Sunday. Spokesman Karl Heinz Gruensteidl confirmed the remarks but declined to provide more details.

The anti-immigration Freedom Party is the third largest political force in Austria’s parliament and recently saw a surge in support in local elections in Vienna, the country’s capital, following a campaign laced with anti-Islamic rhetoric.

Associated Press, 12 December 2010

German far right emerges from shadows as anti-Muslim campaign gathers force

Pro KolnIn today’s Observer Kate Connolly reports on prospects for the far right in Germany following the merger between Austria’s FPÖ and the anti-mosque campaign turned political party Pro Cologne.

She points out that it is the anti-Muslim mood whipped up by more mainstream political figures that provides the conditions for Pro Cologne to win support, and quotes Alexander Häusler of Düsseldorf’s University of Applied Sciences as saying:

“The anti-immigration utterings of Sarrazin, backed up by the comments by Merkel and Seehofer, are like a gift to the far right. They have had a door opened to them that has previously been closed, because it is now socially acceptable to say things that before nobody dared to voice.”

FPÖ to expand into Germany

FPOe head Strache sits next to Belgiums Vlaams Belang party member De Winter Vlaams Belang President Valkeniers and member of the European Parliament Moelzer during a news conference in Vienna
Strache (right) with other leaders of the European far right in Vienna last weekend

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party has announced plans to expand into neighbouring Germany, where it hopes to join forces with another militant anti-Islamic group and campaign against Turkey’s accession to the European Union as part of a widening bid for political power.

The party, which swept to power in Austria under the leadership of the late Jörg Haider a decade ago, made huge gains in Vienna elections earlier this month when it won 26 per cent of the vote and overnight became the city’s second most powerful party.

The dramatic resurgence followed an anti-Islamic election campaign in the Austrian capital’s traditionally white working-class districts, which now have big immigrant communities. The party’s vote-winning tactics included distributing a free computer game that allows players to shoot at mosques, minarets and muezzin.

The party’s current leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said at a right-wing political congress in Vienna at the weekend that his organisation’s growing appeal meant it was now time to move into Germany. The party plans to open its “German office” with the little known Pro-Deutschland ultra right-wing movement, which recently gained seats on Cologne city council.

“We have a lot in common,” said Hans-Jörg Jenewein, the Freedom Party’s general secretary. “The Pro-movement should achieve in Germany what we have in Austria.” Both parties will hold a press conference in the west German town of Leverkusen this week to announce what was described as a “patriotic movement at federal level”.

The Pro movement won five Cologne parliament seats last year after campaigning fiercely against the construction of a new mosque in the city’s suburbs. Mass protests prevented the party from holding a political rally and the organisation is under surveillance from Germany’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Independent, 26 October 2010

See also The Local, 24 October 2010

Freedom Party wins 27% of vote in Vienna election

Austria’s resurgent far-right party won over a quarter of the vote in Vienna’s provincial election Sunday as voters took their discontent about immigration and security to the ballot box.

The elections in “Red Vienna,” a traditional stronghold of the centre-left Social Democrats, reflect a wider European trend as voters concerned about the economic crisis and integration of Muslims turn to rightist parties.

Vienna’s Social Democrats under Michael Haeupl, mayor since 1994, won 44.1 percent, losing their absolute majority.

Heinz-Christian Strache’s far-right Freedom Party scooped up 27.1 percent, up from 15 percent in 2005.

All the other main parties lost ground in Vienna, Austria’s capital and financial hub with just over a million eligible voters, and its most ethnically diverse province.

The results suggest Freedom, which has called for a ban on mosques with minarets and on Islamic face veils, is returning to its strength of the late 1990s.

Analysts say that if the centrist parties keep losing support, they might start catering more to far-right concerns on social policy, mulling for example a ban on Islamic face veils in public and stricter limits on immigration.

Reuters, 10 October 2010

See also Austrian Independent, 11 October 2010