Heinz Christian Strache, the head of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, has called for a ban on all Muslim symbols, warning that Islam is a threat to Europe.
“Let us put an end to this policy of Islamisation,” he told an audience in Salzburg on January 14. “Otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end.”
He also said “we need zero and minus immigration.”
Austria received 130,000 claims for asylum since the summer of 2015. Most are former residents of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
As reported by The Washington Post, there are about 600,000 Muslims in Austria, and they’re facing a growing chorus of detractors. Recently, an Austrian cardinal (and a top candidate for pope in previous conclaves) asked in a speech: “Will there be an Islamic conquest of Europe? Many Muslims want that and say: Europe is at the end.” In December, a right-leaning Austrian trade union suggested that Muslims should be denied Christmas bonuses because “they are against all Christian traditions.”
In related news, the Reuters news agency reported that the Freedom Party’s anti-Muslim message has been well-received by a large minority of Austria’s electorate. Its presidential candidate Norbert Hofer was defeated in a run-off vote last month but gained 47 percent support.