FPÖ leader backs Sarrazin, says he should be offered political asylum in Austria

BELGIUM-CITIES AGAINST ISLAMISATIONFreedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache has vehemently defended controversial Deutsche Bundesbank executive board member Thilo Sarrazin.

The German caused global outcry with various statements regarding immigration and the intelligence quotient of ethnic groups  made in his new book “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany Abolishes Itself) which was published last week.

The German Social Democrats (SPD) are now thinking of expelling Sarrazin over his claims, while most political movements in his home country have already strongly disassociated themselves from his points of view.

Now Strache said Sarrazin would deserve asylum in Austria. The right-winger announced today (Tues): “In contrast to many others who apply for it, he would have deserved political asylum.”

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FPÖ faces police probe over anti-Muslim video game

SCREENSHOT Moschee / FP… / Wahlwerbung

Members of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), once the political home of the late right-wing populist politician Jörg Haider, sparked outrage this week in the form of an anti-Muslim video game released as part of a political campaign in the state of Styria, where parliamentary elections will take place at the end of September.

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.

At the end of the “Bye Bye Mosque” game, which has been online since Monday, players are told: “Styria is full of minarets and mosques. So vote for Dr. Gerhard Kurzmann and the Freedom Party on September 26 so that this doesn’t happen.”

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Far right candidate contests Austrian presidential election on anti-Islam platform

Barbara RosenkranzAustrians will go to the polls April 25 to vote for president after a volatile campaign that focused in part on right-wing extremism and raised the ghosts of Austria’s Nazi past.

Incumbent President Heinz Fischer, a Social Democrat, is expected to win a landslide victory over his main rival, Barbara Rosenkranz, a regional leader of the far-right Freedom Party (FPO), which once was led by the late Jöerg Haider.

Rosenkranz, a 51-year-old mother of 10, entered the race in early March in a bid many experts saw as a test for the Freedom Party’s staunchly anti-immigrant, law-and-order, anti-European Union platform ahead of regional elections later this year. The wife of a key longtime member of a now banned neo-Nazi party, Rosenkranz quickly sparked an outcry over ambiguous statements about the Holocaust and criticism of Austria’s tough 1947 anti-Nazi law.

Immigrants and Muslims, rather than Jews, are the main target of the Freedom Party’s rhetoric. About 500,000 Muslims live in Austria, and the party campaigns under slogans such as “The West is for Christians” and “Homeland instead of Islam.” Still, Jews also feel targeted. In March, vandals defaced the Mauthausen concentration camp, where more than 100,000 people were killed, with staunch anti-Jewish and anti-Turkish graffiti.

The Freedom Party’s outspoken leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said his party’s views were justified by a poll last week showing that 54 percent of Austrians believe that Islam poses “a threat for the West and our familiar lifestyle.”

JWeekly, 15 April 2010

More than half of Austrians feel ‘threatened’ by Islam

More than half of Austrians consider Islam a threat, according to a poll published Wednesday.

According to the poll carried out by the IMAS institute, 54 percent of those polled agreed that “Islam is a threat to the West and our way of life”, while 72 percent believed “Muslims do not adapt to the rules of community life”. For 71 percent of Austrians Islam is not compatible with Western concepts of democracy, liberty and tolerance.

The poll was taken as Austrians prepare to vote on April 25 to elect a new president, a largely honorific but above all moral figurehead. Outgoing Social Democrat Heinz Fischer, who is almost certain to be re-elected, is standing against two candidates who are hostile to immigration: Barbara Rosenkranz, on the extreme right, who wants to restore border controls, and Rudolf Gehring, who heads the Christian party fervently opposed to the building of minarets.

Among extreme right-wing voters, 78 percent said they see Islam as a threat. No figure was available for the Christian party. Among supporters of the Green ecologist party, only 16 percent of the population held that view, well below the average in the general population.

The poll was carried out between January 19 and February 8 among 1,088 people.

Daily Times, 8 April 2010

See also “Majority say Islam is a ‘threat'”, Austrian Independent, 7 April 2010 and “Strache feels ‘confirmed’ by Islam poll results”, Austrian Independent, 8 April 2010

Archbishop of Vienna takes stand against Austrian far right

FPO posterA Church leader has added his voice to criticism of the campaign tactics of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party.

The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, spoke out in a sermon on Thursday, warning politicians against exploiting Christian symbols.

He did not name the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe), but it is using the slogan “The West in Christian hands” in its European election campaign. The FPOe’s leader held up a cross at a rally against a Muslim centre recently.

In his Ascension Day sermon, Cardinal Schoenborn said the Cross “must not be misused as a fighting symbol against other religions”. He said the Cross was “a sign of love, which does not answer violence with violence, or hate with hate, but conquers hatred and hostility through devotion and forgiveness”.

BBC News, 22 May 2009

Six injured as protesters clash over Islam centre in Vienna

Anti-Strache protestPolice special forces clashed with protesters as marches through Vienna over the planned extension of an Islamic cultural centre turned violent yesterday (Thurs).

Police said 700 people held a counter demonstration after roughly the same number joined a protest organised by the “Moschee ade” (Goodbye Mosque) movement fighting plans to extend the centre.

Moschee ade leaders said further protests would be organised if the Social Democrats (SPÖ) of Vienna do not take back their approval of the plans to extend a Muslim centre in the Brigittenau district.

Protest organiser Hannelore Schuster, mother-in-law of People’s Party (ÖVP) Science Minister Johannes Hahn, said she and other protestors would “march once every month.” Schuster said the centre should be relocated, but denied that the proposal was because of any anti-Islamic feeling.

Heinz-Christian Strache, federal leader of the right-wing opposition Freedom Party (FPÖ) held a speech at the event during which he wielded a cross.

And there were furious protests from left-wing groups who had to be held back by special police forces after skinheads attended the event.

Police chiefs said six people were injured when counter-demonstrators clashed with officers, adding three of them were policemen. Three people were put in custody for grievous bodily harm.

A group of Green party members, including city councillor David Ellensohn, joined the counter-demonstration.

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Austria: Strache to demonstrate against mosque

Freedom Party (FPÖ) leader Heinz-Christian Strache has vowed to take part in protests against the planned extension of a mosque, warning it will spread “religious indoctrination”.

Strache said yesterday (Weds) he would participate in a demonstration against the extension of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Vienna-Brigittenau, adding: “This (Islamic) Centre (on Dammstraße) is inappropriate in such a densely-populated area. The centre will have programmes of religious indoctrination.”

Hannelore Schuster, a spokeswoman for Citizens’ Initiative, which is organising the anti-mosque demonstration, said: “We do not oppose Islam but are against further construction (to extend this centre). I cannot forbid anyone to be at our side. It is appropriate for other parties to consider the issue.”

Social Democrat (SPÖ) district chief Hannes Derfler said: “It is typical of the FPÖ to condemn all members of a religious group.” The Greens’ David Ellensohn added: “Strache is again trying to get radical right-wingers involved and offending Brigittenau’s residents.”

City officials have already authorised the construction.

Strache, who participated in an anti-mosque demonstration last September, has regularly claimed that Muslims want to create a parallel society in Austria. The FPÖ leader is expected to give priority to that issue and the alleged dangers posed by immigrants in general during the run-up to the Vienna election to be held next year 2010.

Austria Times, 16 April 2009

Europe’s far Right turns towards the Jewish community

Thurrock Patriots

A wave of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric in Europe is being met by a surprising countertrend: right-wing political factions, including those rooted in Nazism, who have embraced Jews and Israel as “the quintessential guardians of European culture.”

So argues Matti Bunzl, director of the program in Jewish culture and society at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who contends that the European far Right is becoming “genuinely philo-Semitic.”

Such parties have thrown their support behind Jewish candidates, have had their leaders appear at pro-Israel rallies, and have written extensively about the virtues of Jews. “It is not an aberration,” said Bunzl, an anthropologist who specializes in the history and culture of European Jewry.

Bunzl cited numerous instances of this newfound fondness for Jews. Austria’s Freedom Party, founded by former Nazis after the war, has run Jewish candidates, and its website “celebrates Jewish contributions to civilization.” Filip DeWinter, a Flemish nationalist in Belgium, whose party grew out of Flemish Nazism, has praised Jews as law-abiding citizens.

One explanation he offers is Islamophobia – antagonism toward Muslim immigrants or Muslims whose families have migrated to European countries in recent generations.

“Even strong support of Israel among the Right is driven by Islamophobia and perception of Israel as a bastion of European civilization,” said Bunzl, author of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Hatreds Old and New in Europe. For European nationalists, “the Jewish state is trying to preserve its European values against the onslaught of Muslims.”

New Jersey Jewish News, 30 March 2009

Reading religious books, growing a beard – how to spot a potential terrorist

Look for inmates growing beards, reading religious books and not wanting to share showers with non-Muslims. That is the advice given by security officials from several European countries in a manual to help prison authorities spot potential terrorists.

The manual, developed by France, Germany and Austria, was released to help prevent prisons from becoming breeding grounds for Muslim extremists. The document was distributed at a two-day closed-door conference of European security experts this week. It will also be given to prison personnel.

Daily Mail, 3 October 2008

Muslim graves desecrated as Austria swings to the right

Police have blamed far-right extremists for the desecration of a Muslim cemetery in the town of Traun, near Linz, in the same weekend that political parties of the Far Right made huge gains in the Austrian general election.

More than 90 graves were severely damaged at some point between Friday night and yesterday. The perpetrators sprayed Jewish symbols such as the Star of David on some of the graves but detectives believe that this may have been an attempt to disguise the motives of far-right extremists driven by a hatred of Muslim immigrants.

A spokesman for the local Muslim community said that it was deeply shocked at the news of the desecration, which comes as the religious month of Ramadan nears its end.

Austria is embarking on a round of soul-searching after its swing to the right in the parliamentary elections. Polls and analysis conducted immediately after the vote, which established the Far Right as the country’s second-strongest political bloc, indicate that the change was brought about by predominately young voters who are concerned about their future in the European Union.

The two far-right parties that captured almost 30 per cent of the vote, the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, have campaigned on a vehemently anti-immigration ticket and some of their slogans were deemed xenophobic by critics.

Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Freedom Party – which won more than 18 per cent of the vote – campaigned against headscarves and burkas and expressed his opposition to foods seen as being related to Islam.

At his final rally, in Vienna, he spoke of a “European brotherhood” to prevent the rise of Islam. Both parties seek to ban the building of mosques and minarets, arguing that they are political symbols of the “Islamisation” of Austria and Europe.

The Times, 29 September 2008

The suggestion that the graffiti was intended “to disguise the motives of far-right extremists” is unconvincing. The traditionally antisemitic European far right is now moving towards a pro-Israel position, and on the basis of a common hatred of Muslims it has even won the support of a small section of the Jewish community. The reference to “Kadim” – the name of an Israeli Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, which was evacuated in 2005 after being attacked by Palestinian militants – suggests that Zionist extremists may well have been responsible for desecrating the graves.