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