FEMYSO vehemently opposes the normalization of hate speech against Muslims and their dehumanization. The recent situation at the Austrian Parliament is an example of this increasing trend. While it has been less than a week since the terrorist attacks took place in Christchurch in New Zealand, the Austrian parliament yesterday allowed a so-called expert to express that she would use “a machete” to impose a Hijab ban.
During yesterday’s session at the Austrian Parliament, and in the presence of the Minister of Education Mr. Faßmann, the so-called Islam Expert Ms. Zana Ramadani was consulted on the matter of the ban of the hijab (headscarf) in elementary schools. Throughout her intervention, Ms. Ramadani has systematically used hate speech targeting Muslims in Austria. We noted her intervention after Minister Faßmann said: “I am not one who is fighting with the machete” as to which she responded, “to use the machete, that is [the reason that] I am here for.”
We are appalled by the lack of reaction by the Austrian Government to take action against hate speech taking place in their parliament, and we appeal to Minister Faßmann to meet with academically credited experts in the field as well as members of Austrian civil society organisations to consult on the matter. It is noticeable that Ms. Ramadani’s language furthers hate speech against Muslim and reinforces the normalization of anti-Muslim hatred. The Fundamental Rights Agency findings in their European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey, as well as the concerns raised by policy makers and civil society organisations, show that there is an increase in the prevalence and frequency of hate crimes targeting Muslims in the European Union.
As a Member State of the European Union, the Austrian government ought to uphold the fundamental values of the EU, which include amongst many other the respect for human dignity, freedom of belief, and human rights for all people living in Austria, including people belonging to minority groups.