Racist outburst prompts civil courage debate

A video of a man hurling racist abuse at a Somali passenger on a tram in Vienna has caused outrage on social media and provoked a discussion about moral courage.

Racist outburst prompts civil courage debate
A screen grab from the video.

The mobile phone video, uploaded on Friday to YouTube, has already been viewed over 14,000 times and has numerous comments asking why none of the other passengers defended the black man who was subjected to the verbal abuse.

The video shows how an older Austrian man, who appears to have been drinking, insults a Somali man who is standing the other side of the carriage. The Austrian calls him a filthy n****r swine and threatens to knock him over, asking repeatedly “What are you doing here?" and telling him to “go back to the jungle”.

None of the other passengers on the tram intervene and all seem to be looking the other way – apart from the person who filmed the incident.

The Wiener Linien transport company has said that in cases of verbal or physical abuse, passengers should inform the tram or train driver, who would then call the police and ask people to leave the tram.

“In this case the driver doesn’t appear to have noticed what was happening – perhaps because it was at the back of the tram, and the older trams are very noisy. This shows the need for civil courage,” Wiener Linien spokesman Michael Unger told Vice magazine.

Vienna is often lauded for its quality of life, but racism is a problem in the city and there is a growing backlash against immigration.



Deputy mayor of Hitler’s hometown to resign over racist poem

The far-right deputy mayor of Adolf Hitler's hometown, whose poem comparing migrants to rats sparked uproar, will step down, his Freedom Party (FPOe) said on Tuesday.

Deputy mayor of Hitler's hometown to resign over racist poem
Christian Schilcher, deputy mayor of the town of Braunau am Inn. Photo: AFP

The poem by Christian Schilcher, deputy mayor of the town of Braunau am Inn in Upper Austria, used the image of foreign rats integrating with Austrian ones to illustrate the dangers of “mixing” cultures and languages.

FPOe leader and Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said that Schilcher would quit his job and leave the FPOe “in order to avert any damage to the party”.

The row overshadowed the FPOe's campaign launch ahead of European parliament elections next month.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who has led a coalition between the FPOe and his own centre-right People's Party (OeVP) since late 2017, praised Strache's “clear actions”.

“The resignation of the deputy mayor of Braunau was the only logical outcome of this abominable and racist poem,” Kurz said.

Both Kurz's and Strache's parties have run on anti-immigration platforms but with May's elections looming Kurz has come under pressure to condemn outbursts from FPOe members.

The opposition Social Democrats (SPOe) said the coalition should be dissolved to protect “the country's image”.

“There has to be a democratic consensus that human beings cannot be denigrated, insulted or humiliated,” SPOe leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner said on Tuesday.

Strache himself was criticised last week for a Facebook post linking to a site which has published Holocaust denial and various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

The post was subsequently deleted.

Last week Kurz's predecessor as OeVP leader, Reinhold Mitterlehner, sharply criticised Kurz for the government's current direction, accusing it of scapegoating migrants and refugees.

In March the FPOe came under scrutiny for its ties to the nationalist Identitarian group, which received a donation from suspected New Zealand mosque attacker Brenton Tarrant.

After that episode Kurz demanded that the party break all ties with the Identitarians.