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Austria: First newborn of the year has become a target of hateful commentary

10.1.2018 11:29
The first newborn of 2018 in Austria has become a target for hate speech. (PHOTO:
The first newborn of 2018 in Austria has become a target for hate speech. (PHOTO:

The Austrian daily Heute reports that when Alper and Naime Tamga welcomed their newborn daughter Asel into the world on New Year's Day, she was the country's very first newborn of 2018. Instead of congratulations, however, hateful comments were posted to social networking sites after a photograph of the happy family was published.

Asel's birth prompted an enormous wave of online hate speech. The reason is that she was born to parents who are immigrants and Muslims.

In the published photograph, Asel's mother is wearing a traditional hijab. "Deport these scum immediately" or "I'm hoping for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome" were some of the comments posted online by some Austrians after the birth of the Muslim child was reported as the first of the year.

Many of those commentaries have already been deleted from the social networks. Police will be investigating and some who posted the hate speech could face charges.

Another series of hateful posts was sparked by a status update on Facebook and Twitter published by the head of the Viennese branch of the Romani Catholic charity organization Caritas, Klaus Schwertner. "In the first hours of her life this cute little girl has become the target of an enormous wave of hateful, violent commentaries on the Internet," he commented.

The case has been commented on by Barbara Unterlechner, who owns a legal counseling center in Austria. She told The New York Times that the number of racist remarks such as these began to grow in 2015 when the refugee crisis broke out.

"Whether refugees or those wearing head scarves, there is no differentiation, but anyone appearing to be Muslim is cast as an enemy of our culture," she said. Similar cases have happened in the Czech Republic as well.

A wave of hateful online reactions was sparked in November 2017 by a photo of a first-grade class at a primary school in Teplice that was published by the local daily. The image, with the names of the pupils and their teachers, was re-published on a nationalist website from which it was shared by hundreds of people along with their own hateful commentaries.

The class in question is predominantly comprised of children who are of Arab or Romani origin, which many of those commenting wrote about as follows: "Straight away [symbol of a pistol]", "A class full of terrorists", "The school is on 'Gas Street' so the solution is obvious" or "A grenade would fit there nicely on the bench with them!" Also in the Czech Republic, a Romani family who gave birth in June 2013 to the country's first-ever quintuplets had to face arson threats.

vhl, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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