Austrian lawmaker Robert Lugar compared refugees to “Neanderthals who trample underfoot the rights of women” during a speech in parliament last week. The country’s Green Party responded, calling for his resignation.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, Lugar also said most refugees and migrants arriving in Austria were “uneducated, religiously blinded, fanatical [and] impossible to integrate”.
Austria has mainly served as a conduit into Germany for refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa but has absorbed a similar number of asylum seekers relative to its much smaller population, reported Reuters.
The coalition government has adopted tough rhetoric on migrants as the far-right Freedom Party attracts more than 30% approval ratings in voter surveys, about 10 percentage points ahead of each of the ruling centrist coalition parties.
“Now we bring such Neanderthals here who thank God had been extinct in our country,” said Lugar, who chairs the Team Stronach parliamentary group, founded in 2012 by Austrian-Canadian businessman Frank Stronach who has criticised the euro and has called for a simpler tax system and a shrunken public sector.
“Not only is your speech explicitly discriminatory, but it also endangers the safety of all who live and reside in this country,” several opposition Green politicians said in an open letter.