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Terrorism For Members

Terrorism and protests: The security dangers facing Vienna this year

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli - [email protected]
Terrorism and protests: The security dangers facing Vienna this year
Austrian policemen near the Grand Hotel Wien talking to a protester in Vienna. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The head of the Vienna police force has addressed the security concerns facing the city in 2024.

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The threat of terrorism is still present in the Austrian capital and "will still be with us in 2024", according to Vienna police chief Gerhard Pürstl.

The head of the body called on federal authorities to increase police monitoring, especially in pro-Palestine demonstrations, according to statements he gave to Austrian media.

"There is this abstract danger, in general, as long as the situation in the Middle East is as it is, and there is no sign of any improvement. But there is no sign of any change in the Middle East either", he said.

He added that the police look for a balanced approach in its fight against terrorism, trying not to "overdo" measures.

"You could simply not allow events to take place, you could say 'please close churches', only then you would achieve exactly what every terrorist wants, namely to destabilise the state, governments and society," Pürstl said.

READ ALSO: German, Austrian and Spanish police alert to Christmas terror threat

Protests and gatherings

In 2023, Vienna police registered between 10,000 and 11,000 mass gatherings in the Austrian capital.

"Of course, there were also many small ones where the police had no work to do. But there were also many large demonstrations in 2023, including some very sensitive ones," said Pürstl.

READ ALSO: Why did Austria vote against a Gaza ceasefire?

For 2024, he expects this number to "probably" double, especially since it is an election year in Austria. Additionally, with the situation still tense in the Middle East, many protests are still expected - including pro-Palestine demonstrations which, according to the police chief, "naturally also stirred up hatred and led to an increase in anti-Semitic statements".

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According to Vienna authorities, protests by climate activists are also on the agenda for the year. Last year, the police were deployed 160 times in connection with actions by climate activists. 

READ ALSO: Who are the climate protesters disrupting traffic in Vienna - and why?

There were around 630 arrests and around 1,400 charges in connection with climate action in Vienna, said Pürstl.

"This also has a cost of course. We have already invested around €1.6 million in personnel costs, which we could have put to better use elsewhere", he said.

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