Muslim Hate in Austria

Austrian court convicts 8 Iraqi men in tourist’s gang rape

By George Jahn | AP

March 2, 2017

VIENNA — An Austrian court found eight Iraqi nationals guilty on Thursday of gang-raping a German tourist on New Year’s Eve more than a year ago and sentenced them to prison terms of between nine and 13 years.

Charges against a ninth suspect were dismissed, said a court statement. The victim — a 28-year-old woman — was awarded 25,000 euros (over $26,000) in damages.

Both sides were appealing the decision, the statement said.

All nine Iraqi men, who ranged in age from 22 to 48, came to Austria as migrants between May and December 2015. Five subsequently were given refugee status.

The prosecution argued that the eight men convicted exploited the fact that the victim had been drinking heavily on Dec. 31, 2015 and was unable to defend herself.

Rape is punishable by a maximum 15-year prison term in Austria. Explaining the verdict and sentencing, Judge Petra Poschalko said that only two of the defendants had helped the court establish the facts and only one had confessed.

The court heard testimony that four of the men took the woman to a Vienna apartment where they were joined by the others and that all took turns raping her. When the alcohol started wearing off, she found herself naked in a bed.

Rape is punishable by a maximum 15-year prison term in Austria. Explaining the verdict and sentencing, Judge Petra Poschalko said that only two of the defendants had helped the court establish the facts and only one had confessed.

Defense lawyer Andreas Reichenbach observed that the gang rape was committed at around the same time as the high-profile sexual assaults in Cologne by groups of migrants.

Reichenbach suggested the sentences imposed Thursday served in part as an “additional message” for asylum-seekers.

“As we all know, asylum-seekers don’t have the best image here in Austria,” he said. “I think that this surely played a certain role, to make it clear to these people that when they come to Austria that such behavior won’t be tolerated,” he said.

All but one of the defendants denied raping the woman. Some acknowledged having sex with her, but argued it had been consensual.

Prosecutor Karina Fehringer said that was impossible, describing the victim as being defenseless in an “unconscious, shock-rigid” state.

Fehringer said the victim continues to suffer post-traumatic effects from the assault and requires psychiatric treatment.

The defense argued that the victim might have sent “false signals” that could have encouraged the men.

Noting that the woman was extremely intoxicated, Fehringer was quoted by the Austria Press Agency as asking:

“Should we stick warnings on bottles: ‘Excess consumption could be interpreted as agreement to have sex?’”

Charges were dismissed against the 48-year-old defendant, who said he had been asleep during the assaults.

Migrants and refugees from other countries expressed concern that the crime will make Austrians hostile toward all newcomers.

“Eight people raping a woman — that’s honor-less! Such a thing doesn’t exist in our religion,” Burhan Akbas, a migrant from Turkey, said.

“When such people come here and screw up like that, then everybody will think that Chechens, Afghans, all refugees from war areas are all the same,” Mansur Salamou, an asylum-seeker from Chechnya, said. “But it’s not like that. For example, the majority of us — we also cause problems, commit crimes. But no rape! Only criminal assaults and robberies.”

At least three killed in Austria after man drives into crowd before 'stabbing passers-by' in Graz

The Independent

A seven-year-old boy is reportedly among the three people killed in Austria by a man who ploughed his car into crowds in the country’s second-largest city and then reportedly started stabbing people.

A witness told the Wiener Zeitung newspaper that dead bodies were left lying face down in the road after the vehicle sped through streets near the the historical Herrengasse in Graz.

The killing only stopped when the driver parked his battered car outside a police station.

More than 30 pedestrians, including three children, were hurt at several locations during the rampage and 10 victims were in hospital with serious injuries. One patient was in a critical condition on Saturday afternoon.

The driver, identified by police as a 26-year-old Austrian man of Bosnian heritage, has been arrested. He works as a professional driver and is married with two children.

Police are not currently investigating terrorism as a motive and the suspect is believed to be suffering from mental illness.

Witnesses recounted how the man drove his vehicle into crowds apparently at random, sending pedestrians and cyclists crashing into the windscreen and rolling over the bonnet.

Dr Sea Rotmann, who was nearby, told Sky News: "I had a friend who was there and she saw people flying through the air. She saw bodies lying there, it was absolute chaos and mayhem.

"Apparently the guy was attacking two elderly people with a knife and then attacking police with a knife when he got out."

Police said the stabbing happened outside a grocery shop, where a man was seriously injured and a woman wounded less severely.

The incident started at around 12.15pm local time (11.15am BST), sending screaming shoppers running into shops for safety.

A statement from the city council said: "At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.

"A killer used his car as a weapon and deliberately ran people down on a rampage. The perpetrator is in custody."

A spokesperson said the killing spree started in Zweiglgasse, where one person died, and the driver continued through the city and over the Schönaugasse bridge to Herrengasse, ploughing into a cafe seating area in the Hauptplatz (main square).

A witness speaking to the Wiener Zeitung compared the sound of chairs and tables being knocked over by the speeding car to a "gunfight".

The mayor of Graz, Siegfried Nagl, was riding his Vespa only metres away from the car as it screamed down Zweiglgasse and said he heard a "loud bang" behind him.

He described seeing the vehicle overtake a bus at "extremely high speed" and hit a man, who died at the scene.

Mr Nagl said: "At first I thought it was an accident and the driver would stop, but he carried on purposefully and had deliberately killed the man."

The suspect was caught in a nearby Schmiedgasse, where he stopped his car outside a police station.

Josef Klamminger, the director of police, said the driver's motive was not yet known but he appeared to be "psychotic" following problems at home.

Herrengasse is Graz's main shopping street and the adjoining squares are popular with tourists and diners making the most of the summer with its outdoor cafes and bars.

This afternoon it was lined with 50 ambulances and dozens of police cars as helicopters flew overhead.

Hermann Schützenhöfer, the governor of Styria state, called the driver a "deranged lone assassin".

"We are shocked and is no explanation and no excuse for this attack," he said at a press conference.

"We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people. I
appeal to everyone to seek unity in their lives and build bridges, not walls."

The deputy governor, Michael Schickhofer, called the tragedy "incomprehensible" and said he could not express the city's pain.

Wilhelm Krautwaschl, the Bishop of Graz, said he was deeply saddened by the attack.

"Shocked about what happened, I pray for the victims and for those hurrying to help them," he wrote on Facebook.
A memorial service for the victims was due to be held at the Grazer Stadtpfarrkirche at 6pm this afternoon.

The 2015 Austrian Grand Prix is currently being held at the Spielberg Ring about 40 miles from Graz.

Muslim teacher banned over anti-Semitic propoganda

Social Democrat (SPÖ) Education Minister Claudia Schmied has banned a Muslim man from teaching his religion at a Vienna secondary school after he distributed anti-Semitic leaflets to pupils.

Schmied ordered the city school council today (Thurs) to take such action against the man, who had been teaching at the Cooperative Secondary School (KMS) on Brüßlgasse in Wien-Ottakring district. She said "delay would be dangerous."

The reason for the ban is the man’s behaviour. He reportedly distributed anti-Semitic leaflets to his students a few days ago. The leaflets contained a list of allegedly "Jewish" firms from which, the man told the students, they should not buy anything.

Teachers of religion are usually appointed and removed by their respective religious associations, but Schmied said the law on religion provided for the minister of education’s intervention in cases in which such teachers violated their legal obligations.

Allowing the man to continue to teach, the minister said, would have caused "serious damage to the interests of the school and the students."

Schmied’s intervention comes in the wake of a study concluding Islamic instruction in Austria has to change to comply with modern standards.

Mouhanad Khorchide is a professor of the sociology of religion at the Islamic Religion and Pedagogical Institute at Vienna University and the author of the new study, "Islamic religious instruction between integration and a parallel society."

Khorchide’s study concludes Muslim teachers in Austria have largely anti-democratic beliefs and one in five is "fanatical".

Khorchide, himself a Muslim, said 22.6 per cent of the 210 Muslim teachers he had surveyed had "fanatical attitudes" and 21.9 per cent rejected democracy as incompatible with Islam.

The older the teacher, Khorchide said, the more likely he was to reject the principle of the rule of law.

According to Vienna weekly "Falter", the study claimed 8.5 per cent of the Muslim teachers said it was understandable for violence to be used to spread Islam, 28.4 per cent said there was a contradiction in being both a Muslim and a European, and 44 per cent said they had to make their students understand they were better than non-Muslims.

In addition, 29 per cent said it was impossible for Muslims to integrate in Austria without losing their Muslim identity, and 55 per cent called Austrians xenophobic.

On the other hand, 85.7 per cent said they did not believe Muslims had to keep to themselves to avoid losing their Muslim identity.

The education Ministry and the Austrian Islamic Denomination recently agreed on a package of changes providing for new contracts for Islamic instructors and new lesson plans for the teaching of Islam in Austrian public schools.

Austrian Times


Homegrown Austrian terrorism - the end of a safe era?
September 13, 2007

Vienna - The arrest of three second-generation Muslim immigrants Wednesday on terrorism charges shattered Austria's image of being a safe haven from global terrorism. The three, two men in their 20s and one woman, are accused of having produced an internet threat video, demanding Austrian and German troops stop engagement in Afghanistan. The three are believed to have links to al-Qaeda.

Austrians felt safe on their proverbial "island of the blessed", when all over Europe concerns over homegrown terrorism mounted. The country prided itself in its historically conciliatory approach and good relations between the faiths.

But was this feeling of safety just an illusion, the policy of cooperation a failure?

Austria's authorities did not regard the country as a prime terrorism target, owing to its neutrality and opposition to the Iraq war. However, in the long term view the number of militants was on the rise, experts said.

Up to now Austria believed its approach of recognition and inclusion of Muslims - despite regular attacks by the country's rightists - would stave off extremism as experienced in other European nations.

The fact however that the suspects appear to be radicalized second-generation immigrants shows parallels to arrests in Britain or Germany.

Austria is home to approximately 339,000 muslims, 4.2 per cent of the population, the Islamic Religious Authority said.

Austria was victim of several terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 80s. The attack on the Vienna-based OPEC headquarters in 1975 was masterminded by terrorist Carlos.

In 1979 a social democrat councillor was murdered by the Abu Nidal terror group. Two were killed in a PLO attack on Vienna airport in 1985.

It is widely believed that Austria's authorities allowed the perpetrators to leave the country in exchange for security guarantees. They inadvertently made Austria into a safe base for militant movements by this tacit agreement, critics said.

How dangerous were these latest Austrian-based alleged terrorists really? Are they al-Qaeda terrorists, or just copycat amateurs, Austrians wonder. Authorities stressed the suspects had "posed no danger" for Austria.

First media reports paint a more differentiated picture: The 22- year-old main suspect headed the German outlet of the "Global Islamist Media Front", a propaganda platform used by al-Qaeda for recruitment. The arrest shut down Bin Laden's voice in Germany, one expert said.

The suspect travelled to Iraq in 2003, and is believed to have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan or Pakistan, Austrian media said. According to unconfirmed reports, he may have even been an al- Qaeda sleeper.

Whatever the investigation unearths, Austrians will have to part with the idea that their country can be exempt from terrorism and further question the effectiveness of its policies to prevent radicalization.