Far-right extremisim rises in Austria amid huge refugee wave

Right-wing extremism involving xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-semitism rises sharply in Austria.

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

A girl looks through the fence while she and other refugees wait for buses in Nickelsdorf, Austria, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015.

According to a report, right-wing extremism involving xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-semitism rose sharply in Austria in 2015, as large numbers of refugees, mostly Muslim, arrived in the country, Reuters reported.

From 2014 to 2015, the number of right-wing extremism cases increased from 1,200 to 1,690, the report by Austria's domestic intelligence service BVT showed.

Austria declared in February it will allow in no more than 3,200 refugees a day, regardless of whether they intend to go to Germany or apply for asylum in Austria, and will introduce a daily limit of 80 asylum requests.

After this declaration some European countries including Italy and Germany considered this plan “unacceptable and shameless”.

The Austrian plan was "shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said last month.

The number of far-right "extremist acts" reported in 2015 - which range from hurling fireworks at refugee shelters to inciting violence on the internet - totalled 1,150 cases, up from 750 in 2014, the report also showed.

Austria received around 90,000 asylum requests in 2015, mostly in the last few months of the year, after large numbers of refugees, many fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived in the staunchly Roman Catholic country of 8.5 million people.

"If we look at these hate crimes more closely, we see ... (they seek) to create tensions and cause splits in civil society," Martin Weiss, head of the BVT department for information gathering and investigations, told reporters.

"The police and judiciary must give more attention to this because this context is a special challenge for the security forces," he said, adding that in the course of 2015 the nature of far-right crimes committed became increasingly physical.

Afghans are the largest national group seeking asylum in Austria.

After initially welcoming the refugees last autumn, Austria has said it cannot cope with the numbers and has coordinated border restrictions that have shut down the main Balkans migrant route from Greece to western Europe.

TRTWorld and agencies