Austria: Arsonists set future asylum-seeker shelter on fire
A wooden building in the north of Austria near the Czech and German borders that was supposed to become a shelter for asylum seekers was set on fire last week. According to representatives of the Red Cross, which owns the building, the fire was set by arsonists.
Police have confirmed that information. According to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), police officers recorded 25 various attacks on migrant housing last year, but this is the first such fire.
The new wooden building in the Upper Austrian village of Altenfelden, about 13 kilometers south of both the Czech and German borders, caught fire during the late night hours of 1 June. Roughly 100 firefighters responded at around 2 AM on 2 June.
"This was a shock for us," Stefan Neubauer, spokesperson for the Red Cross, said. In approximately two weeks, 48 migrants were scheduled to move into the building.
"This was an act of vandalism the likes of which we have never encountered before," Neubauer said, adding that the organization will attempt to erect a new building at the site. He estimated that the blaze caused up to EUR 300 000 in damage.
Austrian Police confirmed the humanitarian organization's information, adding that they had succeeded in finding the two starting points for the fire near one of the building's outer walls. Reportedly no accelerant was used.
As to who perpetrated the crime, there are no clues as of yet, police said. Austria accepted 90 000 migrants last year, or one percent of the local population. At the beginning of this year, however, Vienna significantly tightened the country's conditions on applying for asylum.
In Austria what the Czech News Agency is calling the migration "crisis" has, among other things, caused a growth in support for the populist, right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). Its presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, narrowly lost at the end of May against the former chair of the Green Party, Alexander Van der Bellen.
According to the official electoral results, Hofer lost by a mere 30 863 votes. Still, attacks against asylum-seekers' accommodation in Austria have been rather exceptional, especially when compared to the number committed in Germany.
This is the very first time such attackers have set an accommodation facility on fire in Austria. Most of last year's attacks involved rock-throwing or threats, according to the APA, and a man in Upper Austria also attacked migrants using an airsoft pistol.
- Austrian neo-Nazi massacres festival-goers
- Hundreds protest border closure between Austria and Italy and demand a border-free Europe
- Austria: Arson attacks against Romani families from Romania
- Czech appeals court exceptionally reduces sentence for social media user who approved of Christchurch massacre, notes current law is imbalanced
- Roma children electrocuted while playing in a Belgrade settlement
- Mayor of Czech town apologizes after bureaucrat recommends application to use the town logo be rejected because she believed the applicant to be Romani
- Renáta Plachetková: EU citizens without settled status as of 30 June in the UK will be deported
- Czech protest against COVID-19 response brings together the far-right, those against the PM, those against the opposition, xenophobes - and punks
- Czech Senate elections won by "Mayors" party, xenophobic rhetoric scored no votes, owner of disinformation tabloid not reseated
- Czech poll finds 30 % of the public does not want Romani children in mainstream classes and does want them to be segregated
- Czech court upholds suspended sentence for man who called for non-white first-graders to be gassed to death
- YouTube restores Czech politician's channel but deletes two posts that spread hate
- COMMENTARY: Even if the Czech Public Defender of Rights repeats the same lie about Roma a thousand times, that won't make it true
- Czech commentator expected stronger condemnation by politicians of the racist reactions to the worst arson attack since 1990
- 11 deaths in fire, worst such death toll since 1990, met with antigypsyist celebration by Czech Internet