Left-wing and anti-fascist demonstrators descended on Vienna’s Heroes’ Square on Monday to protest the swearing-in of a new Austrian government that prominently includes a far-right political party.
The anti-immigration Austrian People’s Party reached a deal with the anti-establishment Austrian Freedom Party to create a new coalition to govern Austria for the next five years.
New chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the People’s Party leader who won the country’s national election on Oct. 15 after promising to stop illegal immigration, will govern with Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who has previously warned unchecked immigration is “Islamizing”” Austria. The Freedom Party finished third in the October elections.
Strache will serve as vice-chancellor, and his Freedom Party will control the ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs, according to the Gatestone Institute.
The Freedom Party, which has been described as populist and nationalist, was founded in 1956 by a former Nazi, and about 5,000 people were expected to show up in Vienna to protest the new government on Monday.
About 1,500 police officers, helicopters and water cannon trucks blocked off the space around Hofberg Palace before the ceremony, according to the Guardian newspaper of London.
Marchers held signs that read “Refugees welcome,” “Nazis out” and “No Nazi pigs.” Some protesters tried to break through a barricade, prompting police to fire a smoke grenade, according to an Agence France-Presse photographer at the scene.
The Freedom Party and People’s Party agreed to a coalition that promises to crack down on illegal immigration and speed up deportation of refused asylum seekers. Kurz has been a leading opponent of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policy, which has allowed more than 1 million migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia to enter Germany in the past two years.
While he was foreign minister, Kurz played a key role in securing parliamentary approval of a law that regulates the integration of immigrants. The Integration Law bans full-face Muslim veils in public and prohibits radical Muslims from distributing the Quran, as well as setting clear rules and responsibilities for asylum seekers and refugees granted legal residence in the country.
The new law compels migrants from non-EU countries to sign an “integration contract” that requires them to learn the German language and enroll in courses about the “basic values of Austria’s legal and social order.”
Before that, Kurz also played a prominent role in reforming Austria’s Islam Law, which governs the status of Muslims in the country. The reformed law, passed in February 2015, attempts to integrate Muslims and combat radicalism by promoting an “Islam with an Austrian character.” It emphasizes that Austrian Muslims must place Austrian law above Shariah law.
Strache, despite his party’s origins, supports Israel and insists anti-Semitism has no place in his party. When he visited Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in April 2016, at the invitation of Israel’s Likud Party, Strache declared: “For us, it’s important to act against anti-Semitism, and also against Islamism and terrorism, and to discuss the issues we have in common. Anti-Semitism often emerges anew from Islamism and from the left.
“We have a lot in common [with Israel]. I always say, if one defines the Judeo-Christian West, then Israel represents a kind of border. If Israel fails, Europe fails. And if Europe fails, Israel fails.”
Like Kurz, Strache has been a vocal critic of Merkel, calling her “the most dangerous woman in Europe” because of her immigration policies. He has cautioned that the “uncontrolled influx of migrants who are alien to our culture, who seep into our social welfare system… makes civil war in the medium-term not unlikely.”
Strache is also a Eurosceptic, calling the EU a “bureaucratic monster.”
However, the document outlining the new government’s agenda explicitly refuses to permit a referendum on Austria’s continued membership in the EU, instead promising a strong commitment to the EU: “Only in a strong Europe can there be a strong Austria in which we are able to take advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century.”
The new government also promises to crack down on political Islam, require migrants to learn German, require migrant kindergarteners to gain sufficient German language skills before moving on to first grade, increase legal penalties for sexual crimes, bolster Austrian defense, hire more police officers, shrink the bureaucracy and not raise taxes.
America is headed down a suicidal path, contends Leo Hohmann in “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,” available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.