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Right-wing demo against planned Islamic school

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Right-wing demo against planned Islamic school
The site of the planned school. Photo: Heinz Titz
16:58 CET+01:00
The right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) will hold a protest at the site of a planned Islamic high school in Simmering, Vienna on Thursday evening.

Muslim organisations have said they are afraid it will turn into a parade of right-wing groups, but left-wing groups have said they will hold a counter demonstration.

Police spokesman Roman Hahslinger said a total of around 400 people are expected to attend the protest, which he confirmed would go ahead despite talks on Wednesday with the FPÖ in an effort to call it off.

He told The Local that there will be “sufficient police manpower” to ensure it doesn’t turn into a riot, as happened in Cologne last weekend when violence broke out between demonstrators and police.

FPÖ club chairman Johann Gudenus will speak at the rally. He has criticized the extreme left group Linkswende, as well as the young Social Democrats and young Greens for “supporting Salafist schools and associations”.

Left-wing groups have called for a counter demonstration to show “solidarity for Muslims”, saying that they expect around 200 people to attend.

The planned private school in Florian-Hedorfer street has been heavily criticized as it would effectively be run by the Turkish state, with all lessons taught in Turkish.

Initially the group behind it registered the school with the local council as an “education centre with a kindergarten”, rather than a school for imams.

Renate Angerer, the SPÖ district chief for Simmering, said that she feels deceived but that her hands are now legally tied. “In no way is this in the spirit of integration,” she told Österreich newspaper.  

It’s still not clear if it will be given approval to go ahead. Austria’s Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz has spoken out against the school, saying that imams should be taught in public courses run by the Austrian state.

The SPÖ said that it was wrong for the FPÖ to call a protest, when all political parties had already spoken out against the school. “The FPÖ wants to drive a wedge between the people of this city and arbitrarily incite hatred,” education spokesman Heinz Vettermann said in a press release.

He said that a German-language course to train imams at university was “the only viable solution”.

In early August somebody left a pig’s head on scaffolding at the planned site. Police have still not found the perpetrator.

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