By Askin Kiyagan
VIENNA (AA) – The mayor of Austria’s capital city of Vienna condemned racism and discrimination in the country Tuesday, calling these types of agitation against Muslims worrying.
Michael Ludwig said during an iftar or fast-breaking meal in Vienna that people in Austria should stand together against anti-Muslim agitation and Austrians should not harbor racist or anti-religious sentiment.
Ludwig said Austrians and the country’s Muslim community should make mutual efforts to live together peacefully.
He said Austria officially recognizes Islam and at least 700,000 Muslims reside in the country.
He also noted that seeing people suffering from racism and discrimination for their religious beliefs in Austria is seriously worrying him.
Separately, the chief of the Islamic community in Austria, Umit Vural, thanked Ludwig for the iftar meal held by the Vienna municipality.
Vural said Muslims are going through hard times in Austria and the country needs conscious politics more than ever during a time when provocations and agitation against Muslims are on the rise.
Vural also spoke about a possible headscarf ban for primary school students in Austria which parliament will discuss Wednesday.
He said politics cannot decide on people’s apparel.
A total of 1,920 racist incidents took place in Austria last year, according to a report released in March.
Nearly 60% of the racist and hate-based incidents occurred online, said Austrian NGO Civil Courage and Anti-Racism Work (ZARA).
Some 1,164 racist posts were shared on social media and other online platforms, it said, adding 16.3% of racist attacks occurred in public places while 7.9% of those subjected to racist treatment were in the service and entertainment sectors.
Also, 4.6% of racist and hateful discourses occurred in print media and politics.
The Security Directorate was the state institution where racist treatment occurred the most (4.3%).
The discriminatory, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies of the far-right government in Austria, which has been in power for over a year, have led to a dramatic increase in racist incidents, according to recent figures.
ZARA has been working for 20 years to contribute to a society without racism.
*Writing by Can Erozden