Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Xenophobic Rhetoric

Xenophobic Rhetoric Austrian presidential candidate in the 2016 elections from the far-right Austrian Freedom Party Norbert Hoffer

Publicly xenophobic statements by politicians in Austria are not uncommon, usually coming from members of two right-wing parties in parliament: the FPÖ and Team Stronach, the now-defunct parliamentary party founded by industrialist and billionaire Frank Stronach. In March 2016, for example, that party's parliamentary leader, Robert Lugar, called refugees "Neanderthals." The parliamentary president rebuked him for this, and many other politicians demanded his resignation; but Lugar stayed in parliament and then demanded "forced labor" for all asylum seekers "from the first minute" of their stay, including any refugee over 14 years old.

In his campaign for the 2016 presidential election, FPÖ candidate Norbert Hoffer repeatedly referred to refugees and Muslims in general as "invaders" who carried out the "invasion" of Austria. The Facebook pages of several FPÖ politicians, including FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strasche, Johann Guden and Norbert Hoffer, repeatedly contained hate speech and xenophobia, as well as conspiracy theories. For example, one such publication claimed that asylum seekers received preferential treatment in Austrian hospitals; another claimed that asylum seekers were given free smartphones. Another FPÖ politician briefly referred to Muslim men as sexual predators, sodomites, and probably pedophiles.

However, the worst scandal involved a Facebook and WhatsApp group supported by the student union AG Jus, which is not affiliated with the FPÖ, but with the ÖVP (Austrian People's Party): members of the group shared anti-Semitic and racist messages, some glorifying the crimes of National Socialism and some seeking to dehumanize minorities in the spirit of National Socialism. The group used the genre of "memes" to present their racist ideology in what they later presented as a "humorous" manner. Several members of these groups were also members of the ÖVP youth organization and of the ÖVP itself, and most, but not all of them, therefore, had to resign. The University of Vienna strongly condemned these actions, the rector held a day of protest against them and began a series of public lectures on extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi ideologies today. Criminal investigations and a trial process have now been initiated.

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