Growing neo-Nazi trend threatens Austria

Published 10.04.2019 00:12

Austrian authorities conducted searches across the country yesterday, targeting 32 people who are suspected of neo-Nazi activities, according to the Justice Ministry.

Austria's government coalition between Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's conservatives and the far-right Freedom Party is currently under pressure to prove its credentials when it comes to fighting right-wing extremism. The FPO, which says it abandoned Nazi ideology espoused by its founders in the 1950s, entered the government after coming in third, with 26 percent of the votes, in elections in October 2018. Kurz has moved his traditionally centrist party to the right, particularly on the issues of migration and Muslims, but has avoided the inflammatory rhetoric of the Freedom Party, which itself has publicly disassociated itself from decades of covert anti-Semitism but continues to attract a neo-Nazi fringe.

Following recent revelations that the alleged Christchurch mosque attacker donated money to the anti-immigration Identitarian Movement in Austria, media and the opposition have scrutinized the links between Identiarians and the ruling far-right Freedom Party. In addition, European intelligence agencies downgraded their relations with their Austrian counterpart, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism, after prosecutors raided the office one year ago to investigate alleged irregularities.

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