Heinz-Christian Strache, a right-wing Austrian politician and leader of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPO) called for a ban on “Islamisation”.
The FPO is a party popular amongst some of the electorate, holding rightist views with extreme measures on controlling immigration particularly where Muslims are concerned. “Let us put an end to this policy of Islamisation… otherwise we Austrians, we Europeans will come to an abrupt end,” said the politician at a yearly FPO New Year’s convention.
Strache believes that Austria is in need of a strict “law which prohibits fascistic Islam” which he proclaimed to thousands of FPO supporters at the New Year’s meeting in the Austrian city, Salzburg.
The right wing Austrian People’s Party (OVP), which is in coalition with the left-wing Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPO), suggested that there should be a maximum limit on the refugees by halving migrant applications from 35,000 in 2016 to 17,000 in 2017. Strache criticised the OVP proposals. “We don’t need an upper limit or the upper limit to be reduced by half – we need zero immigration, actually minus immigration, because all illegal individuals and (migrant) criminals belong outside of the country,” Strache said.
When referring to illegal immigrants, Strache suggested that they “should be sent to a detention centre”.
Despite calling for outlawing “Islamisation”, Strache said that those who deem Muslim migrants as “anti-liberal” and reflecting “a fascist worldview” should not view them as being “hatred”. He added that those unable to comply with the rules of European democracy “are free to return to their Muslim country”.
Strache has expressed his view on the EU regarding immigration saying “We do not want to leave the European Union, but we want a reform that would correct all its development failures.”
A spokesperson for FPO said that “any law against extreme elements of Islam should be similar to the law Austria introduced after WWII banning the Nazi Party and Nazi symbols.”
Austria is a predominantly Christian country with Roman Catholics representing the majority of the population. According to research conducted in 2001, approximately 73.6% of Austria’s religious demographic is Roman Catholic. There are around 600,000 Muslims living amongst Austria’s population of around eight and a half million.