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Catalogue of Aggression

We had just paid the bill and reached for our coats, when a weathered woman at the next table under a thick Russian bear hat, leaned over and addressed me in English, her voice heavily accented: “And which American racket are you part of?” I turned and stared. “Excuse me?” I asked, bewildered. “Is it […]

Convictions of Young People Rise

The number of young people convicted of robbery, violence, theft and damaging property is at a historic low, according to a recent study by the Viennese Institute of Criminal Sociology published in January. And while young people of an immigrant background are less likely to commit a crime, they are much more likely to be […]

Interview with A Militant

Interview with A Militant

Why do young European Muslims become extremists? That’s a question Ed Husain thinks he is very qualified to answer. For several years, he claims, he was a committed member of one of Britain’s most extreme Islamist movements – a group called Hizb ut-Tahrir. Every week the young Husain discussed inflammatory political materials in secret meetings. […]

Bruno Kreisky Prize 2007: ZARA vs. Racism

Bruno Kreisky Prize 2007:  ZARA vs. Racism

Siding with minorities against the establishment is not usually the way to win awards – in Austria, or anywhere.  Thus receiving the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights 2007 was a big deal for ZARA, the Austrian anti-Racism organisation. “The prize is an important recognition,” said Barbara Liegl, Director of ZARA at the award ceremony, […]

Rough Justice

The first case of police torture in Austria since the end of Nazi Rule was recorded in April 2006 by the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, an international, non-governmental watchdog organization. A cancelled deportation of a Gambian citizen, Bakary J., from Vienna International Airport had triggered a series of events described unmistakably as torture carried […]

Rough Welcome

In early March, the annual report of ZARA (the Verein für Zivilcourage und Anti-Rassismus-Arbeit, not the store) arrived in my mail box. The report of the Austrian NGO, meticulous in detail, describes pages of incidents – 1,500 in 2006 – of daily racism against minority groups, especially blacks, living or visiting Austria. The report caught […]

Separate and Unequal Islamphobia in the EU

In some parts of Europe, press reports describe Muslim communities – Turks in Germany, North Africans in France, Pakistanis in parts of the U.K. – that have kept themselves consciously apart. In many more places, however, Muslims in Europe have tried to integrate. The problem is that even when they want to, research has shown […]

Fear of the New

I wonder if, now that Romania has joined the EU, people in Vienna will still stare at Romanian license plates. It just happened in the last six months, driving around and being given “the look,” as my license plate gave away my identity.  It hadn’t happen before, maybe because there was no concern that we […]

Street Action

Street Action

Racist graffiti is not uncommon in Vienna, even in the inner districts.  One can find it smeared on walls and buildings, often a two-word slogan both primitive and simple in message:  Your kind isn’t wanted here. Some people, like political artists Eva Grudin and Yossi Gutmann, think the problem is so pervasive that something drastic […]

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