Austrian swimming pool off-limits to ‘unaccompanied refugees’ amid child rape outrage
The alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy by an Iraqi refugee in Vienna has sparked mixed reactions: while locals feel unsafe and blame the government, pro-immigration campaigners claim such cases should not be the basis for “general mistrust.”
After the boy was allegedly brutally raped in southwestern Vienna by a 20-year-old refugee in the changing rooms at a swimming pool, people became more worried about their families’ safety in the Austrian capital. The suspected child abuser, who arrived in Austria from Iraq in September of last year, leaving a wife and a child back at home, is one of many newcomers who now prevail in their neighborhood, locals say.
“There are more migrants than Austrian families at the moment here, really huge groups of migrant people,” one woman told RT.
“We used to bring our kids swimming in this pool, [but] when we heard about the incident, after this sad story we decided to stay away,” another man said, adding: “It’s the fault of the Austrian government, because it took lots of refugees from the outside.”
The incident at the public pool happened in December of last year, but received no coverage in the media back then. Police are still reluctant to share the details, only telling RT that the suspect “lives in Vienna and has a refugee status.”
Meanwhile, management at another municipal swimming pool near the Austrian capital in the town of Modling has recently banned migrants. Citing “repeated complaints by bathers and staff,” the managers banned admission to people “of immigration background” if they are not accompanied by social workers.
“Some of them were not able to behave themselves, and went after the women following them into the showers. They [also] tried to break up our vending machine. I couldn’t just stand by, I had to do something,” Robert Mayer, the manager of the pool, told RT’s Laura Smith, adding that “young asylum seekers are welcome to come here, but only if they are accompanied.”
The decision has been criticized by left-wing pro mass immigration campaigners, who claim there have been other places and people that have refused to deal with migrants and refugees.
“This is something that we’ve been seeing a lot happening lately, be it in a swimming pool, or at a doctor’s – which we had – who refused the treatment of refugees, or a lawyer who would say he would not represent refugees or asylum seekers or migrants. And then you would have a bar that would ban refugees from entering,” Vienna city councilor and Green Party member Faika el Nagashi told RT.
Calling for tolerance, she stressed that “there is never any basis to stigmatize a whole group of people based on one, or two, or a number of incidents.”
“We feel very worried about the atmosphere as it [is] today. After so many bad news in the media and picture of Islam as a religion, there is an atmosphere of general mistrust,” Carla Amina Baghajati of the Islamic Faith Community of Austria told RT’s Laura Smith.
Yet, such incidents do not receive enough coverage in the western media, Laszlo Maracz, a professor from the University of Amsterdam, argued.
“We see the same pattern all the time: migrants commit an offense, [including] sexual molestations or a robbery... and the authorities try to suppress this information, and the media is not reporting on it,” Maracz told RT, adding that “the mainstream media is trying to cover up the data that is somehow violating the image that migrants are all very nice people who can be trusted.”
“Western Europe was the place where citizens were trusting their authorities, their quality media. Now it all has become questionable and it shows that the European way of life as we used to know it is changing,” he said.