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14 Jan, 2017 22:37

Austria’s far-right party chief calls for law banning ‘political Islam’ over its ‘fascist worldview'

Austria needs an “effective law banning political Islam,” said Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party (FPO), adding that the Alpine country should also stop accepting new migrants and refugees.

“Let us put an end to this policy of Islamization as soon as possible,” Strache said in a speech at the annual Freedom Party New Year’s meeting that was held in Salzburg, referring to the current EU and Austria’s “welcoming” policy towards asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa.

He added that, otherwise, Austrians and Europeans “would come to an abrupt end.” He went on to say that the current cap on new arrivals introduced by the Austrian government last year that amounts to 37,500 asylum seekers per year does not actually change anything. He also criticized a proposal recently introduced by the center-right Austrian People's Party (OVP), which involves the reduction of this cap by a half to 17,000 people per year.

He denounced both measures as “laughable” and called for the “minus immigration policy,” which should involve not only a ban on all new arrivals but also an expulsion of all migrants and refugees, who entered Austria illegally or were involved in any crimes on its territory.

“We need no cap and no halving of that cap – we need a zero immigration and in fact even negative immigration while all illegals and criminals [who are migrants] should be expelled from the country,” he said during the party meeting, as cited by the Austrian APA news agency.

He also called for tougher measures against illegal migrants by saying that “those who try to enter [Austria] illegally, should be sent to a detention center.” He also said that such measures should be accompanied by an “efficient” law banning political Islam.

The ban should particularly apply to all foreign sponsorship of Islamic institutions and organizations in Austria while all radical Islamic mosques should be closed, Strache said. His proposal echoed the words of the Freedom Party’s former presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, who also spoke about the necessity of such a law.

Hofer lost the Austrian re-run presidential elections to a centrist candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, in early December, but still gained about 47 percent of the votes cast.

Later Friday, the Freedom Party spokesman clarified to Reuters that any law against political Islam should be similar to an existing Austrian law banning the Nazi party and Nazi symbols. In his speech, Strache indeed compared political Islam to fascism when he explained why fighting Islamization cannot be defined as “hatred.”

“Hatred” to a much greater extent refers to situations in which some Muslim states do not recognize Israel’s right for existence or when Muslim migrants call women that do not wear headscarves “prostitutes” and put Sharia law above the secular constitution, he said, as reported by APA.

He went on to stress that people who criticize the behavior of migrants “because it is misogynistic, anti-liberal and reflects a fascist worldview,” are not showing “hatred.” Those who find European democratic rules inappropriate “are free to return to their Muslim country,” Strache said, adding that Austria “has forced no one to come here.”

The head of the Freedom party also proposed to scrap financial benefits for all asylum seekers in Austria and instead provide them with non-monetary aid and social benefits.

Austria wants to stay in EU but still needs a nation state

At the same time, Strache made it clear that his party does not support the idea of Austria leaving the EU, but demands changes in EU policies, particularly concerning immigration.

“We do not want to leave the European Union, but we want a reform that would correct all its development failures,” he said, stressing that the “welcoming culture” demonstrated its inadequacy in the view of the terrorist attacks carried out in Europe over the past years.

“It is not nationalism that people want, it is the nation state and partnership relations and cooperation” between European countries, he said, adding that “the nation state is not dead” as it is a “cultural achievement” and a “model of success” for Europe.

Austria, which has a population of about 8.7 million people, received more than 130,000 claims for asylum from people coming from the Middle East and Northern Africa since the summer of 2015 and took in one of the greatest numbers of refugees per capita alongside with Sweden.

Now about 600,000 Muslims, including those, who arrived during the refugee crisis, live in the Alpine country, accounting for about 7 percent of its population.