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TERRORISM

Street signs near mosque defaced

Five streets signs near a mosque in Vienna have been pasted over with names like ‘Sharia street’ and ‘Isis-recruitment’ in what appears to be an anti-Muslim act.

Street signs near mosque defaced
A street sign had 'Shariagasse' pasted over it. Photo: Private

"This has caused great concern in our community," Tarafa Baghajati of the Islamic Community in Austria (IGGiÖ) said.

He said it was obviously not a "prank" and had been done by people who meant business.

Some residents of the low income area in Floridsdorf believed that Muslims had pasted over the signs themselves but local Imam Salim Mujkanovic is convinced "that this is deliberate provocation by somebody who wants to bring the mosque into disrepute."

Baghajati suspects right-wingers are to blame, and are using the fact that jihadists are being recruited by Isis and other terrorist groups in Austria to stir up fear and animosity.  

However, he said he was pleased that there had been "numerous expressions of solidarity" for the Muslim community since it became aware of the incident.

Police have confirmed that street signs were changed – one sign had the words ‘James Foley – beheaded’ pasted over it.

The case has been handed over to the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The signs have since been cleaned and returned to normal.

A letter condemning attacks on Muslims in Austria signed by a thousand people from different faiths was published on the internet on Wednesday.

Three women who were wearing headscarves, three mosques and a religious high school under construction have all been attacked in the last month.

The declaration was prepared under the leadership of Muslim feminist Dudu Kucukgol and Peter Stoger, a professor at the University of Innsbruck entitled, "Call for public calm" and "Open letter on the hysteria against Muslims."

It called for "prudence and objectivity in this atmosphere of fear mongering."

They feel that the debate in the media and in politics has caused the exclusion of Muslims, the declaration states.

"Creating fear against a religious group harms all people. We call for calm for the peace of all Austrian people" the declaration said. 

The declaration was signed by academics, writers, members of parliament, journalists and members of non-governmental organizations.

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CRIME

Case dropped against second Swiss man over Vienna attack ‘links’

Swiss prosecutors said Thursday they had dropped the case against a second Swiss man over alleged links to a deadly shooting rampage in Vienna due to a lack of evidence.

Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)
Armed police officers stand guard before the arrival of Austrian Chancellor Kurz and President of the European Council to pay respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria on November 9,2020. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which last month decided to drop the case against one suspect, told AFP it had issued a discontinuation order in the case against a second man.

On November 2, 2020, convicted Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai killed four people in Vienna before being shot dead by police.

It was the first major attack in Austria in decades and the first blamed on a jihadist.

Two Swiss citizens who knew Fejzulai were arrested in the northeastern Swiss town of Winterthur just a day after the attack on suspicion they may have helped in its preparation.

‘How was it possible?’ Austrians left asking painful questions after Vienna terror shootings

The two, who were aged 18 and 24 at the time, were known to the police and were the targets of prior criminal cases over terror-linked offences.

The OAG acknowledged Thursday that no evidence had emerged that either man had participated in any way or had prior knowledge of the attack.

The older of the two men was meanwhile hit with a penalty in a separate case with no links to the Vienna file, the OAG said.

The penalty order, seen by Swiss media, indicated that he had been found guilty of violating Switzerland’s law banning Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and related organisations and of being in possession of “depictions of violence”.

According to the ATS news agency, an IS group video was found on his phone depicting people being executed and decapitated.

He was handed a six-month suspended prison sentence, a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,100, 950 euros), and three years’ probation, ATS said.

ANALYSIS: Vienna terror attack was ‘only a matter of time’

In light of this penalty, he would not be compensated for the 176 days he spent behind bars after his arrest following the Vienna attack, it added.

The OAG said a separate case was still pending against the younger of the two men, also on suspicion he breached the Swiss law banning Al-Qaeda, IS and related organisations, and over “allegations of depictions of violence”. “The presumption of innocence applies,” it stressed.

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