Far-Right Revival
Rebranding of the Austrian Right

The European immigration crisis is beginning to reshape the political landscape, as across the continent nationalist parties propagating anti-immigrant beliefs are gaining support. In Austria, the far-right Freedom Party is capitalizing on growing concerns over immigration by warning about “an Islamization of Europe.” From the NYT:

The Freedom Party’s strident anti-Islam message seems to have struck a chord in a city whose palaces speak of the bygone glory of a multiethnic European empire, and whose public spaces now attest to increasing diversity and a Muslim population of some 12 percent.

“We don’t want an Islamization of Europe,” the party leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, told Austria’s public broadcaster as he began his campaign to be Vienna’s mayor. “We don’t want our Christian-Western culture to perish.”

In Germany, such sentiments exist on the fringe of politics. In Austria, which never underwent denazification programs after 1945, the Freedom Party has morphed from its roots in groups of former Nazis to a xenophobic message that it blends with concern for the little guy.

As Charles Hawley wrote in these pages earlier this month, the Freedom Party, which has roots in anti-Semitism, has   been rebranding itself over the last decade, jettisoning hostility to Israel in favor of this rhetoric on Islam. In order to make itself more electable and on improving its “anti-anti-Semitism” bona-fides, the Freedom Party has even gone so far as to add outspokenly pro-Israel rhetoric to its platform. Hawley puts Freedom Party’s shift away from anti-Semitism in the context of other European parties, like France’s National Front, angling to do the same. But anti-Semitism is still present in Europe, in part because of the anti-Israel sentiment that some immigrants bring with them. Read the whole piece

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