The FPÖ had said they had expected as many as 5000 people would turn up to take part in the demonstration against asylum accommodation in Vienna’s Liesing district, but in the end around 1,100 people were there.
FPÖ bosses said that the new accommodation planned for the area would mean residents would live in ‘permanent fear’. “The boat is full, it would not be possible to integrate thousands of people into Vienna. Our infrastructure is not prepared for that,” says FPÖ vice-mayor of Vienna Johann Gudenus.
A petition to try and prevent the homes of asylum seekers has received over 7000 signatures.
A counter-demonstration of just under 1000 pro-refugee and anti-fascist campaigners took place at the same time and place on Monday evening, including many from the group ‘Offensive gegen Rechts’ (Offensive against the right).
They marched under the motto “Refugees Welcome”, keen to welcome and show their solidarity with asylum seekers.
“There is no place for racism and violence in Vienna,” said spokeswoman for Offensive gegen Rechts Magdalena Augustin. “The FPÖ want to incite people against asylum seekers, modelling themselves on the German Pegida movement. But the opposition against them is too big.”
Around 500 police were present and they created a buffer zone between the two groups to prevent them from physically clashing. Although two arrests were made – from both sides of the protest – authorities say the event went off without any serious incidents and was over by 7.20pm.