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Integration campaign sparks debate

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Integration campaign sparks debate
Screenshot from the campaign website.
14:19 CET+01:00
A new Austrian campaign aimed at promoting integration and encouraging immigrants to feel more connected to their adopted country has been criticized as “alienating” foreigners.

The #stolzdrauf (proud of) campaign is being promoted across social media, in TV ads, newspapers and news websites and is supported by President Heinz Fischer, folk singer Andreas Gabalier and former Miss Austria Amina Dagi. The video ads feature ‘model immigrants’ speaking in German about why they feel proud to live in Austria.

It has already sparked a flurry of debate and ridicule on twitter with people posting unflattering images of politicians and public figures.

Lawyer Georg Bürstmayr, writing for Der Standard newspaper, points out that even if Gabalier feels proud to live in a country where people enjoy wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl surely that shouldn’t mean that everyone must feel the same. In his view, integration is a two way street that also requires native Austrians to show some tolerance towards migrants. He writes that a better campaign hashtag would have been #teamspirit. 

Launching the campaign, Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz said that a recent study showed that 30 percent of Austrian residents with a migration background feel strongly associated with their country of origin.

This is especially common among people from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey. “Young people are struggling with a sense of belonging,” Kurz said. He added that “certain groups” presented more challenges than others.

He said that he wants the campaign to reach the entire population - native Austrians too - and to help people feel a shared sense of belonging, without having to give up their roots.

More than a million people living in Austria don’t have Austrian citizenship but Kurz explained this by saying that the majority of these people come from other EU countries and don’t want to give up their citizenship to become Austrian.

If you live in Austria let us know if you are proud of your adopted country, and why. Tweet us @TheLocalAustria

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