The ZARA Racism Report 2015 presents a dramatic rise in the number of reported racist incidents in Austria, with a total of 927 incidents reported, an increase of 133 compared with 2014. The statistics collected by ZARA and published as part of the report show that this increase is particularly evident in online racist incidents, as well as incidents involving politicians and the media.
The report highlights the particular increase in racist online posts against refugees and asylum seekers. Such posts included glorification of Nazi violence, as well as false reports about criminal offences committed by asylum seekers and the level of government spending on benefits for refugees.
As well as online hate speech, the report outlines numerous cases of discrimination against refugees by service-providers, including a doctor who refused to treat refugee patients, and bars and swimming pools that hung public signs banning refugee customers. Such discrimination is illegal according to Austria’s Equal Treatment Law.
The report also shows increasing levels of racially-charged rhetoric among politicians, including cases where politicians utilised “Nazi diction”, as well as numerous cases of islamophobic and antisemitic statements by politicians, with the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) repeatedly cited.
In a statement on the report, Claudia Schäfer, head of public relations at ZARA, said: “We appeal to all politicians and public servants and urge them not to play upon racist resentment, and to always act within the [Austrian antidiscrimination] laws and to ensure compliance with them.”
Dina Malandi, head of the ZARA counseling centre for victims and witnesses of racism said: “Hoaxes, baiting and open violent fantasies against refugees and others – mainly expressed on social media – not only foment hostility and hatred, but are in many cases criminally relevant. The large number of reports not only confirms an increase of hateful posts, but also shows that many activists do not want to tolerate such calls to hate and want to take action against them.”