Racism forces Erasmus student back to UK

The Local Austria
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Racism forces Erasmus student back to UK
Migrants in Salzburg. Photo: Muslim Hands UK

A black British student doing an Erasmus year in Salzburg says he left after just three weeks after experiencing “more racism and discrimination than [in his] entire life in London”.


Writing on his blog, the student whose name on his Facebook profile is Albert Amankona, said he was at the receiving end of four significant incidents which led to him cutting his study year abroad short and returning to London.

Some of the incidents involved a tenant living below him who complained to the landlord that a black man was living in the building, and then told Amankona that he had called the police, apparently believing that the student was living in Austria 'unregistered'.

Another incident involved a woman at a bus stop shouting at him to speak German while he was talking to a friend on the phone, while other passengers looked on.

“Whilst this was terrifying on its own in retrospect what was more chilling is that not one single person at the bus stop said or did anything as this was going on and there were about 15 people there, it was almost as if we were invisible,” he wrote on his blog. “It was at this point where I thought that maybe Salzburg was not the right place for me.”

He went on: “I never imagined that somewhere in ‘Western Europe’ contained people as overtly racist as some of the people I encountered during my short time in Salzburg nor did I expect to see a coffee shop called Afro coffee mocking almost every aspect of African culture, down to the cartoons on the wall reminiscent of "Golliwogs".”

“I firmly believe that if everything else in my life was the same except I was white, my experiences in Salzburg would have been completely different and saying that upsets me deeply.”

He also framed his experiences in the context of Europe's migrant crisis, which has seen thousands of migrants and refugees travelling through Salzburg on their way to Germany.

According to some reports, as many as 8,000 migrants are coming across Austria's southern border with Slovenia every day, with around 2000 to 3000 travelling daily through the province of Salzburg over the northern border to Germany.

Around 63,000 have applied for asylum in Austria although most seek a life further north in Europe.

Although highlighting the support many migrants receive from Austrians, Amankona concluded that “if you look like you could be a refugee some will treat you as a second class citizen”.

Nearly 100 people have commented on his post, written earlier in October, with some agreeing with the student's assessment, a few apologising for his experience, while others arguing that Austria should not be judged as racist based on these few experiences.

“The world is complex and it is not as easy as drawing conclusions from these shameful and outrageous incidents on the Austrian people and Austria,” one commentator under the name of Tamara wrote.



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