The first part of this report may be read is here.
Seismic Shifts in Vienna, Part 2
by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff
When I appeared at the ACT! for America Conference in Washington DC in late June, I warned America about the loss of freedom of speech that Austria has been facing. Not only that, but I compared the creeping loss of freedom during the rise of Hitler in the 1930s to that experienced nowadays. In addition, I spoke about the outright civil war among political parties, leading to the loss of classical discussion between those who are at the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Civil war among political parties? Certainly in a verbal sense. There is a distinct lack of classical discourse nowadays. As Melanie Phillips brilliantly argues in her new book The World turned Upside Down, “Dissent is labeled as pathology — homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia — with phobia, or irrational fear, used as a synonym for prejudice. There are even outright accusations of insanity, a weapon used by totalitarian movements […]. Any fact that challenges the worldview of the left is ignored, denied or explained away, because to admit even a scintilla of such a truth would bring the entire utopian house of cards crashing down […]. Anyone who objects to the falsehoods of the left and points out the truth must be right-wing and thus “fascist”. In this way, truth itself is demonized — and the bigger the truth that is told, the more demonized the teller becomes.”
Another clever strategy employed by the opponents in this war-like state is the use of “death by silence”. As Dymphna has described so eloquently, death by silence — or Totschweigetaktik as it is called in the original German — in effect kills any dissenting opinion. The term
[does] not seem to have an equivalent in English (though we sorely need a neologism for this one since it’s such a prevalent maneuver in the MSM):
… “death by silence” is… “an astonishingly effective tactic for killing off creative work or fresh ideas or even news stories. You don’t criticise or engage with what’s being said or produced or expressed; instead you deprive someone and their work or opinion of the oxygen of attention’’.
Conservatives know totschweigetaktik all too well. It has become common to ask if a particularly egregious move by the progressives will make its way past the increasingly p.c. media threshold into the light of day. Often these stories die in the dark. The portal seems to shrink even as their tactics become more odiously obvious.
The opponents in this war — and yes, we must call this a war — are given ample opportunity to express their points of view and are never called to task by their critics because of death by silence. A German pop song, Lass die Leute reden, song describes just that:
Lass die Leute reden und hör ihnen nicht zu
Die meisten Leute haben ja nichts Besseres zu tun
Lass die Leute reden, bei Tag und auch bei Nacht
Lass die Leute reden — das haben die immer schon gemacht
Let the people talk and don’t listen to them,
Most of them have nothing better to do,
Let the people talk, during the day and during the night.
Let the people talk, that’s what they’ve always done.
Und wahrscheinlich ist ihnen das nicht mal peinlich
Es fehlt ihnen jede Einsicht
Und wieder mal zeigt sich: Sie sind kleinlich
They’re probably not even embarrassed,
And they have no deeper insight,
And once again it shows: They are narrow-minded,
And inevitably xenophobic
If death by silence does not yield the expected results, namely that the opposing point of view fades away, then ad hominem attacks follow.
Let us now apply all this to the current political situation in Austria, in particular in Vienna, where the political parties are fighting for votes and support in the upcoming municipal elections. As I have already reported in part one of this essay, the battlefields at the gates of Vienna are being drawn up and the armies are preparing to fight for and against their civilizations and way of life.
With Vienna still reeling from the effects of Heinz-Christian Strache’s campaign posters using the term “Vienna blood”, no one expected the next attack to emanate from the Muslim side. It was, however, even less expected to come to the aid of the “right-wing, Islamophobic” faction. Nonetheless, what Anas Shakfeh, the outgoing president of the Islamic Faith Community, had to say can rightly be called explosive (thanks to JLH for the translation).
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Mosque Debate: Swiftly Ignited, Quickly De-Fused
by Anna-Maria Wallner
President of the Islamic religious community Shakfeh hopes for a recognizable mosque in every provincial capital in “two or three decades.” The FPÖ (Austrian Freedom Party) reacts predictably.
Heated debates arise so quickly in pre-election season. The president of the Islamic religious community in Austria (IGGiÖ), Anas Shakfeh that over a long period of time, there may be in each provincial capital an “outwardly recognizable mosque, including minaret.” And the political Right haul off for a (sadly predictable) verbal roundhouse blow.
Indeed. the timing of Shakfeh’s interview with the Austria Press Agency (APA) a few weeks before elections in Vienna on October 10th was not an especially clever choice. It was to be expected that the FPÖ — already energized by the debate about its “Wiener Blut” posters — would react to such a foray. FP general secretary, Harald Vilimsky already opines that mosques are “brooding nests of radical Islam” in a broadcast in which he, furthermore, demands a “ban on immigration by people from Islamic territory.” Gerald Grosz of the BZÖ (Coalition for Austria’s Future) is just as dainty: he considers Shakfeh’s suggestions to be idiotic and calls mosques “nests of resistance.”
Shakfeh rejects the reproach that he unleashed a timely debate before the Vienna elections that the FPÖ could make use of. He tells Die Presse that the conversation with APA was first and foremost occasioned by the approaching elections within his religious community (November, 2010 to June, 2011). It was also not least because he was asked about the current FPÖ campaign. Viennese SP representative Omar Al Rawl defends Shakfeh: “He did not intend to start a debate.”
Al Rawl says he is shaken by how “scurrilously these politicians can speak about houses of worship.”
IGGiÖ president Shakfeh is counting on his departure after the new elections in his religious community. He wants to dedicate what will presumably his last year in office to the fight against the clichés about the ca. 500,000 Muslims living in Austria. “Naturally not all Muslims are angels. We are normal people like all others,” he says. He is against the German language requirement before immigration and against the ban on burkas. He again suggest a separate governmental office for immigration and integration.
The reactions of the FPÖ and BZÖ did not surprise Shakfeh. “The election campaign they are conducting is not a clean one, and at the cost of Muslims and other immigrants, whom they see as the so-called aliens. No matter how integrated we are.”
Five Minarets in Austria
By “a mosque recognizable from the outside” Shakfeh means a building “that everyone perceives as a mosque.” There should be the basic architecture of a mosque: main building, minaret, dome. “Just as a church has a basic structure,” he says. “The way houses of prayer and mosques were in the 1960s and 70s — in cellar restaurants or apartments — should be over. We don’t want to hide.”
He is not concerned about how centrally a mosque is located: “It must just be accessible to the faithful. Besides, what is on the edge of a city today may be central in ten years.” Shakfeh hopes that sooner or later (but not tomorrow of the next day) there will be a mosque in each of Austria’s states. And Austria is not so far from that. Depending on how you count, there are four or five mosques with a minaret: in Vienna, Telfs (Tyrol), Saalfelden (Salzburg), Bad Vöslau (Lower Austria; this one has two minarets, so it could be counted twice) and the minaret built out of wood by children in Innsbruck as part of a Catholic initiative. In that light, Shakfeh’s push seems downright diffident.
Debates like this make us forget that a mosque can be built without citizen initiatives or hate campaigns from the political right, as Saalfelden proves. There has been a mosque there with an 8 meter high minaret. Until a year ago, not even the IGGiÖ knew about it.
Reactions from all sides of the political spectrum were foreseeable. Both FPÖ and BZÖ (Alliance for the Future of Austria) argued that “mosques are the breeding ground for radicalism” and “mosques are pockets of resistance of a democracy-hating, inhuman parallel society.” Mosques should only be built after a referendum. ÖVP predictably had nothing else to say but, “There is good timing and bad timing to start a discussion.” Christine Marek, ÖVP mayoral candidate, feared this Shakfeh’s interview “plays into the hands of the right-wingers.” The Green party was, apart from the usual tune — Nazi, xenophobe, blah… blah…. — silent. SPÖ handed the problem over to Vienna mayor Michael Häupl, who said he declines to add fuel to the fire. Since there is already a mosque with a minaret in Vienna, end of discussion. Really?
Strache, in turn, announced a referendum analogous to the Swiss referendum on minarets. He wants to ask the following questions:
|1.||Should there be a ban on minarets?|
|2.||Should there be a ban on wearing headscarves in the public sphere as well as a total ban on wearing the burqa and niqab?|
|3.||Should Muslims be forced to sign a declaration that the Austrian rule of law (constitution) supersedes Sharia?|
According to the tabloid ÖSTERREICH, Strache is planning the referendum to start in Vienna because this is where the highest percentage of Muslims resides. He wants Vienna “to turn into New York”, where there a massive protests against the Ground Zero mosques. ÖSTERREICH adds, “There and here [in Austria] the protesters, predominantly young ones, are afraid of foreigners.”
Although it is hard to imagine, the two antagonists upped the ante. In a press conference, Strache called SPÖ Vienna “an Islamist party” because 36 of the candidates on the voting list have Muslim background. The mayor was furious. “Strache is stupid,” he says.
Vienna Social Democratic (SPÖ) Mayor Michael Häupl has once more caused controversy by calling his biggest political opponent a “stupid person”.
Asked what he thought of Freedom Party (FPÖ) boss Heinz-Christian Strache, Häupl said today (Friday) he would like to use a famous quote by late SPÖ Chancellor Bruno Kreisky: “He is a really stupid person.”
Häupl, mayor of the capital since 1994, irritated Strache supporters but also fellow SPÖ members earlier this year by branding the right-winger a “loser”. Some SPÖ decision-makers have expressed concerns such attacks will only give Strache an extra boost in his attempt to break the Vienna SPÖ’s absolute majority.
The FPÖ garnered 14.8 per cent in the 2005 Vienna election, and the latest polls show that it has chances to improve significantly in the 10 October vote.
The Social Democrats are expected to approach the People’s Party (ÖVP) for coalition talks if they lose their city parliamentary majority won five years ago (49.1 per cent).
But Häupl stressed today: “We are working hard to avoid being forced to think about possible coalition constellations.”
Analysts have pointed out that the SPÖ is in a difficult position since the past has shown that potential supporters of dominating parties tend to stay away from the voting booths over expectations of certain victory.
The SPÖ is tipped to point out Vienna’s high living quality standard — the city came out on top in various international studies — in its campaign.
Häupl has promised to focus on content and information instead of populist slogans that the FPÖ has focused on.
FPÖ strategists recently presented posters calling for “More Courage for our ‘Viennese Blood’ — Too much of the other doesn’t do any good for anyone.” (Mehr Mut für unser ‘Wiener Blut’ — Zu viel Fremdes tut niemandem gut).
The campaign poster series has been branded as “racist” by political opponents and NGOs — and prompted SPÖ members whose families originate from foreign countries to give blood.
Strache also infuriated left-wing politicians by speaking out against additional mosques in Vienna.
His announcement followed an appeal for more “visible” mosques with minarets by Anas Schakfeh, president of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ).
Many members of the country’s Islamic community — there are around half a million Muslims in Austria — criticised Syrian-born Schakfeh amid fears of a worsening of the political and social climate in the country. Newspaper columnists meanwhile suggested the FPÖ’s Vienna department must be delighted about the statement as it could make many potential backers support the party in the October balloting.
Indeed, the political and social climate in Austria is deteriorating. Very fast. And that the leader of the pack, so to speak, is unable to calm down the situation, but adds even more fuel to a veritable bonfire, be cause for great concern.
Häupl demands an apology from Heinz-Christian Strache for calling his party an Islamist party. After all, he equated SPÖ with a criminal organization, since in common parlance “Islamist” means terrorist. Obviously, Strache cannot distinguish between Islam and Islamism. “If I were to call the FPÖ a Nazi party — which I will not — there would be a huge outcry.” SPÖ respects all religions; what it does not respect is terrorism, whether religious or not. “Mr. Strache, study history and then apologize.”
Even worse, Häupl warns of buildings on fire.
“Do we want a city in relatively high prosperity, where people live together in peace and harmony? Or do we want to live in a city where people are incited to hatred and where buildings are burning, where things are a mess?”
It is an extremely worrying scenario, but what Häupl completely misses here is that it is his policies that upset the “social peace”; that is his appeasement of Islam that has been dividing the population; that it is his total ignorance of the reality on the streets and in the parks that will be sanctioned by the voters.
And the voters are indeed upset. Here a comment in the newspaper Die Presse:
About three hours ago, I was in Schwechat [a town near the Vienna airport] where in the main square I saw preparations for a festival. I asked a woman passing by what was going to be celebrated since there are so many Turkish tents to be seen. The woman immediately (!) broke down in tears, saying that she can no longer stand all those immigrants who — even if they have been in Austria for a mere five years — are hauled by the SPÖ into the city council and who represent only their own interests. She will vote FPÖ in the coming elections.
Yes, there are seismic shifts coming. The fault lines are shifting, one by one, both in the United States and in Europe, and the rocks of lies and deceit are falling and soon they will crush the tower of multiculturalism, political correctness, and self-loathing so carefully erected by the political left and its cronies.