October 1, 2008

Attack on Muslim Cemetary Comes Amid Rightist Gains

The Times of London reports that over 90 graves in a Muslim cemetary were “severely damaged” in Traun, Austria, during a general election that saw big gains for anti-immigrant political parties.

Austrian police attribute desecration to far-right extremists, whom officials say attempted to shield themselves from association with the crime by spraying Jewish symbols over some of the graves.

The Freedom Party and The Alliance for Austria’s Future captured almost 30 percent of the vote, boosted by young populist voters concerned about what they deem as an ongoing “Islamisation” of Austria and Europe.

The Freedom Party campaigned against headscarves, burkas and ethnic foods, while both pledged to ban the construction of mosques and minarets.

The International Herald Tribune reported that mainstream parties such as The Social Democratic Party and the People’s party remain prevalent, but are increasingly unpopular. Bitter disputes have paralyzed reform within their governing coalition, resulting in more populist far-Right votes from dissatisfied citizens.

In fact, recent polls from the Washington-based Pew Research center showed both rising anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe.

Critics accused Austrian far-Right political parties of using xenophobic slogans to further their cause.

–Lauren Riggs/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Muslim graves desecrated as Austria swings to the right”
The Times of London, September 29, 2008

“Austrian center slips as far right wins votes”
International Herald Tribune, September

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