• Austria's news in English
Is Austria underestimating the threat of radicalization?
A young suspect in court. Photo: APA/ORF

Is Austria underestimating the threat of radicalization?

The Local · 29 Jan 2016, 13:09

Published: 29 Jan 2016 13:09 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Around 20 young people in Austria have already been sentenced for supporting Islamic State (Isis) militants and several are now being supported by specially trained youth workers as part of the Neustart rehabilitation programme.

Neustart spokesman Andreas Zembaty said that the process is not too different from deradicalizing people who have become influenced by neo-Nazis, and that many young people are driven to extremist ideas by feelings of insecurity and think that: “If no one likes me then at least I can get people to admire or fear me”.

He said that "anyone with an education, a job, an apartment, a future, a girlfriend, or caregivers, is unlikely to become radicalized”.

'Recruiting sites for extremists'

One 15-year-old who was already sentenced for plotting to blow up a train station in Vienna is back in police custody after allegedly photoshopping images of his friends onto images of Isis fighters in Syria, to show them how “heroic” they could be. Since being released from prison last year he has had home visits from his parole officer four times a month, but has reportedly been struggling to keep up at school.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Britta Tichy-Martin told the Kurier newspaper that a special package of measures is being drawn up to help prison officers detect when prisoners have been radicalized and how they can combat this.

But experts say the need for this is urgent, and recommend special programmes for radicalized youth and young adults, adding that no expense should be spared in implementing them. “Deconstructing such an ideology is a long process, that must take into account many factors,”  Verena Fabris, director of the extremism counselling centre said.

“Prisons are often recruiting sites for extremists,” integration and extremism expert Kenan Güngör said. “Many inmates start to question the meaning of life and some find comfort in radical religious views.”

Story continues below…

Some experts believe that Austria has underestimated the risk of radicalisation. Last year, a new extremism hotline received around 1,000 calls from mothers, fathers, sisters, grandmothers and girlfriends who were worried about their loved ones being radicalised.

Figures from Austria’s police intelligence agency show that as many as 250 people are suspected of having links to radical jihadists - and that 40 of these are under 18 years old.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

Austrian policeman sentenced over 'Heil Hitler' salute
Photo: Flickr

A policeman in Austria was sentenced on Thursday for shouting "Heil Hitler" at a driver during a traffic check at the Hungarian border in April.

Scary clown craze endangers crucial work of clown 'doctors'
Photo: Bojan Tavcar

Within the last couple weeks, disturbing events involving masked individuals has caught public attention in Austria.

Chimney sweep rescues lost mushroom picker
Photo: James Lindsey/Wikimedia

A 76-year-old Austrian man who went out mushroom picking almost froze to death after getting lost and spending the night in the forest.

Refugees sold into forced prostitution
File photo: UNHCR

Female refugees are being sold into forced prostitution in Austria, a police investigation into human trafficking has found.

Driverless bus takes a spin around Salzburg's old town
The Arma driverless shuttle bus. Photo: Navya

A driverless minibus has made a test journey in the city of Salzburg.

No jail time for asylum seeker who dumped baby in road
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A man who grabbed his own child and dumped her in the middle of a busy road has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available