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

Treatment of Minorities

Treatment of Minorities Ethnic minorities in Austria.

The Austrian Constitution enshrines the rights of autochthonous minorities, including rights of representation, financing, language and education. These rights have sometimes led to conflict at the regional political level. Therefore, although the Austrian government has generally respected these rights in the past, some of them continue to be contested. A specific long-standing conflict concerns the linguistic rights of ethnic minorities in Austria under Austria's Federal Constitution, which calls for the respect and promotion of the rights of ethnic groups. The rights of Croatian and Slovenian ethnic groups were originally set forth in the State Treaty of 1955, which recognizes Croatian and Slovenian as official languages in addition to German in Burgenland, Carinthia and Styria, where significant "mixed" populations existed. The state treaty also prohibits acts of discrimination.

Special rights were also granted to Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak ethnic groups and Roma under the Ethnic Group Act ("Volksgruppengesetz") of 1976 as well as several other laws and regulations. One year later, the Ethnic Advisory Boards were established to assist the federal government in all matters concerning the Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Czech minorities in Austria. The requirement that the linguistic rights of these official minorities be protected raised fears of even greater segregation, which may have been contrary to the intentions of the State Treaty. In addition, the 1976 Act required that topographic signs in a minority language be placed in addition to German only if a "substantial part of the population" belonged to that minority, which was interpreted to mean "25 percent of the local population." This part was successfully challenged by the Croatian community of Burgenland in the Constitutional Court in 1987, which sparked a decades-long political battle over changing place names, which was only settled in 2011.

When it comes to societal attitudes toward autochthonous minorities, we cannot speak of any weighty level of hatred in the public consciousness. The real object of social rejection, however, is foreigners, especially migrants. The Eurobarometer showed back in 2015 that the Austrian population is very skeptical of foreigners, much worse than the European average, especially with regard to immigrants from outside the EU. He also pointed out that most Austrians do not trust the European-wide control of "illegal immigration" and prefer to entrust the issue within their national borders to their own government. In addition, the general European immigration policy is strongly disapproved of by the majority of Austria's indigenous population.

These trends were reinforced by the so-called "refugee crisis" in 2015/2016, which caused two-thirds of Austrians to feel uneasy. A second factor that influenced Austrians' anti-immigrant feelings was the activities of political parties: Since the 1990s, the FPÖ has consistently campaigned against immigrants, making them scapegoats for all social and economic problems, linking them to crime and, more recently, to terrorism. In recent years, the ANP (ÖVP) has joined in no small part by demanding border closures in the 2017 elections. A third contributing factor is the tabloid media with wide coverage - mainly the newspapers Kronen Zeitung and Österreich, which are well known for their xenophobic views.

According to ZARA, an Austrian non-governmental organization that documents discriminatory behavior against migrants, foreign nationals and ethnic minorities, negative attitudes toward these groups in 2016 were most pronounced publicly online (30%), in public places (20%), in access to goods and services (16%), in politics and in the media (9%) and in providing jobs (3%). This may be due to Austria's relatively strict anti-discrimination laws regarding labor relations, but it also points to a disturbing trend of greater societal discrimination and xenophobic attacks.

The results of this study are not only a result of the relatively strict anti-discrimination laws in Austria, but also indicate a disturbing trend of greater societal discrimination and xenophobic attacks.

This included calls for Muslim women to remove scarves from their heads and veils from their faces; verbal and even physical attacks on people of color; negative attitudes toward speaking in a language other than German; in emails sent indiscriminately to households in Lower Austria with claims that crimes against the person are committed mainly by foreign nationals, migrants, asylum seekers and people who only recently became Austrian citizens. This also concerns the spread of stereotypes about African men allegedly persecuting European women; language bans in schools and in sports clubs for languages other than German, and talk of "good foreign languages," such as English or French.

In some Austrian schools and sports clubs, there are also stereotypes of African men persecuting European women.

In some Austrian media, such statements and often exaggerated or simply false reports ("fake news") have contributed to an increasingly xenophobic climate in society. For example, in January 2016, the tabloid newspaper Kronen Zeitung published an article entitled "Asylum Seekers - Are the Police Hiding Crimes?" which claimed that the Austrian police deliberately withhold or even conceal information about "asylum seekers" who allegedly commit crimes. The article detailed several crimes and argued that they "leave much room for speculation" and continued to offer such speculation in the form of linking crimes to asylum seekers without any evidence or corroboration. The refusal of the police to confirm that these crimes were indeed committed by asylum seekers has generally been perceived by the far-right as cover-up and censorship.

This line of argument - the circularity - is reminiscent of the conspiracy theories promoted by far-right populists such as the Austrian FPÖ.

Since the peak of the migration crisis in 2015, large numbers of Austrians have (publicly and confidentially) helped refugees with their integration through countless grassroots initiatives. This ranges from simply providing water and food to those arriving at Vienna's train stations, to volunteering to teach German, to counseling and supporting refugees during their asylum application, to organizing social activities, and so on. Again and again, many Austrian businesses took the initiative and welcomed refugees in the sense of launching programs to recruit and train refugees. Perhaps the most notable sign was the "Voices for Refugees" concert held in Vienna in October 2015, at the height of the refugee movement into and through Austria , but smaller demonstrations of support for refugees continued at irregular intervals - usually to protest against new, more restrictive laws or to show solidarity in specific cases. In general, the Austrian government has been active in supporting refugees.

Austrians are generally positive toward ethnic and religious minorities. For example, according to an October 2018 opinion poll, 65 percent of those surveyed are willing to accept a Jew as a member of their family, while 54 percent of Muslims are willing to accept a Muslim into their family. Among young people, the percentages are even higher, 70 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Moreover, the religious factor plays no role in identification from the point of view of 61 percent of Austrians. And 53 percent of Austrians do not consider birth in the country or family origin from Austria to be a significant factor for national identity. And only 25% are against same-sex marriages. It is interesting that 67% of Austrians consider themselves believers.

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