Progressive sections condemn Austrian authorities’ decision to absolve racist pamphlet

The right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), part of the ruling coalition, has been continuously propagating racist statements against the immigrant Muslim community in the country

March 25, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Protest against the Freedom Party of Austria
Supporters of a refugee home attend a gathering to protest against a demonstration of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) with a banner reading 'FPO out!'. (Photo: Politico Europe)

Progressive sections in Austria expressed their shock at the insensitive decision of the Austrian ministry of justice and the Vienna public prosecutor’s office regarding a provocative and racist pamphlet, issued by the Dobling district committee of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) on November 13, 2018. The authorities did not find any objectionable content in the pamphlet, which called to ban Muslim immigrants from occupying flats in community buildings in Dobling, Vienna. The city’s vice mayor, Dominik Nepp, and Austrian state legislator, Michael Eischer, both of whom are FPO politicians, also reiterated similar anti-immigrant and islamophobic views.

Human rights advocacy group, SOS Mitmensch, expressed concern about the recent decision by the Austrian authorities on the pamphlet by FPO Vienna and the views publicized by the FPO politicians. It described the statements and demands of the FPO as “discriminatory and deeply derogatory towards Muslims”. The Communist Party of Austria (KPO) also shared the concerns raised by the human rights group.

SOS activists alleged that the FPO was trying to bring back the Nazi tradition of ostracizing minorities. The Nazis, under Adolf Hitler in the Third Reich Germany, had justified their fascist housing policy by saying that “neither ‘Aryan’ landlords nor ‘Aryan’ housemates of a house could be expected to live together under one roof with Jewish tenants any longer”.

SOS argued that FPO was trying to justify its call for a general exclusion of Muslims from further access to community buildings by citing “problems with Muslim neighbors” and “complaints of Austrian community dwellers”.

In November 2018, a 39-second video by the FPO drew widespread criticism. The video, which provided information on new insurance cards, explicitly portrayed Muslims and Turks as scammers.

Earlier, the FPO had targeted the immigrant Muslim community by accusing the Muslim Youth Austria (MJO) of spearheading Islamist ideology in the country. But, in the wake of protests, and after failing to prove the accusation in court, the FPO revoked the statement and offered a compensation to MJO.