Fr, 19. April 2019
02.04.2019 15:39

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74% increase from 2017

Assaults on Muslims in Austria on the rise

Reports of racist attacks against Muslims increased by almost three quarters last year. On Tuesday, the Documentation and Counselling Centre on Islamophobia reported 540 incidents. These range from offensive graffiti and verbal abuse to physical attacks and discrimination in the workplace. The majority of such offences take place on the internet.

When a middle-aged woman assaulted a young Muslim woman wearing a headscarf, the attack caused an uproar: a video shows a woman insulting and spitting on a hijab-wearing pedestrian, for no apparent reason. The video spread across the web like wildfire.

An isolated case? Not according to the study published on Tuesday morning: it shows that assaults on Muslims increased by 74 percent last year. The report documents a total of 540 islamophobic incidents in 2018, compared with 309 in the year before that. Especially in January, as the first baby born in 2019 was Muslim and faced racist comments, the Documentation Centre registered an increase in reports.

Mostly insults, some physical attacks
Almost half (46%) of the incidents registered last year were cases of hate speech or incitement to hatred. 89 cases (17%) concerned offensive graffiti, 76 cases concerned verbal attacks (14%). 34 cases of discrimination were reported, and there were 11 cases (2%) of racist hate crimes.

Four out of five times, the victims of the assaults were women, but there is a strong increase in male victims: while they made up 2 % of the victims in 2017, this proportion has now risen to 17 percent. The majority of cases were reported in Vienna, followed by Lower Austria and Styria.

Perpetrators unaware
According to the authors of the study, more than half of all incidents occur on the web - and most of the people who perpetrate islamophobic attacks are likely unaware that they are committing criminal offences.

The Documentation Centre also criticized politicians, saying that the terms „Islamist“ and „Islamic“ were readily and frequently confused in public discourse.

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