Antisemitism: Number of reported threats and insults almost doubled

 From left to right: IKG-Secretary General Raimund Fastenbauer, IKG-President Oskar Deutsch and Amber Weinber (Forum against Antisemitism)/ picture: APA/HERBERT PFARRHOFER

From left to right: IKG-Secretary General Raimund Fastenbauer, IKG-President Oskar Deutsch and Amber Weinber (Forum against Antisemitism)/ picture: APA/HERBERT PFARRHOFER

“We are convinced that Antisemitism on part of Islam tends to be on the rise”, says Oskar Deutsch from the Jewish Community (IKG) at the presentation of the report on Antisemitism in 2015.

The report on Antisemitism in 2015 shows an increase of incidents with an islamist background. But threats and insults seem to be on the rise in general, notes Oskar Deutsch, President of the Jewish Community in Vienna, during a meeting with the press on Wednesday. In addition to a global definition of Antisemitism, he is also demanding measures to integrate migrants in Austria.

The report was prepared by the Forum against Antisemitism (FgA), which has been gathering this kind of data and reports since the end of the “report on right-wing extremism” by the Austrian ministry for the interior in 2002. “We function as the place to go for individuals who would like to report anti-Semitic incidents”, explains Amber Weinber from FgA. Moreover, the forum assists with finding psychological support and legal assistance. Deutsch emphasizes that the organization is independent from the Jewish Community but forwards its reports to him.

Significantly more threats, but fewer assaults

In 2015, 465 reports reached the forum against Antisemitism in total, which equals an increase of 82% compared to the year before, which saw 225 reports. In 2013, there were only 137 of this kind of reports, notes Deutsch with regret, “this development is insane”. Insults and threats have particularly increased on the internet, while physical assaults have decreased from nine in 2014 to only two in the previous year. However, according to the president of the Jewish Community (IKG), this can also be attributed to increased protection for Jewish facilities.

The incidents range from battering a man wearing a Star of David or anti-Semitic excesses at soccer games to harassment of children on a bus. Furthermore, the report also includes anti-Semitic political comments like those by former FPÖ-member of parliament Susanne Winter.

Additionally, the termination of proceedings [Note: owing to a legal loophole] against the right-wing magazine “Aula”, in which prisoners of concentration camps were referred to as “mass murderers” and a “plague”, is listed in the report. The prosecuting authority could “follow the magazine’s line of argument” that the freed prisoners were considered a “harassment” for the public.

“Antisemitism on part of Islam tends to be on the rise”

According to the authors of the report, it can be challenging to link individual incidents to a specific group of offenders, be it right-wing, left-wing or Islamist. “We are however convinced that Antisemitism on part of Islam tends to be on the rise”, says Deutsch. The refugee crisis would have an additional deteriorating effect on the overall atmosphere, which is fueled by Islamist and right-wing groups. “At the moment, right-wing activists rather target Muslims”, states the president of the Jewish Community (IKG) – “but that doesn’t really help us. First, it will be the Muslims, and then it will be the Jews.”

Following the report, the Jewish Community is now making clear demands such as a global definition of the term Antisemitism. In addition to that, an action plan at European level as well as more severe application of existing laws would be necessary since, according to Deutsch, “sentencing is often not as harsh as it should be”. Furthermore, he calls for better integration of immigrants, especially with regard to the teaching of Austrian values. One possible measure could be e.g. a visit of the former concentration camp in Mauthausen.

Raimund Fastenbauer, Secretary General of the Jewish Community (IKG), also addressed the fuzzy lines between groups of the Islamist scene, e.g. between the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists.-“This problem has long been ignored”.