As the Austrian daily Die Presse reported, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen has called on all women to wear a headscarf. This statement was made by Van der Bellen to a youthful audience in the House of the European Union in Vienna. His shocking statement has resulted in numerous resignation requests.
The Austrian president justified his demand citing “growing Islamophobia in Austria: and if this continues, with this Islamophobia, the day will come when we have to ask all women to wear a headscarf, in solidarity with those who do it for religious reasons."
Criticism came even from the women's rights activists of Muslim countries, stating that his approval of the headscarf was deeply troubling, while the headscarf clearly stands for “for gender apartheid, oppression, coercion.” His statements were viewed as "sexist and cultural-relativistic.”
FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache also vigorously criticized Van der Bellen, saying "there has never been such an egregious statement uttered by a president of the Republic.” Strache urged the president to apologize and criticized him for his further trivialization of National Socialism. In his speech, Van der Bellen compared the situation of the Muslims with that of the Jews in the Third Reich.
The pile-on from social media was equally intense. Numerous comments by eminent Austrian citizens can be found among the recent contributions on Van der Bellen’s Facebook page.
Alina Wychera, an Identitarian activist, also protested against the president’s statements via Facebook. In a video she holds the sign "Not with me!" and calls for others to pick up the meme. Since the beginning of his presidency, Van der Bellen has been rejected by the Identitarians, often accompanied by the slogan "Not my President."
Efghani Dönmez, a former Green politician, also expressed astonishment at Van der Bellen’s support for headscarves. In an open letter to the president, he writes that he hopes the statement "(...) was said erroneously and not representative of his true political attitude."
Van der Bellen has proven rather definitively that he is no more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing 100 days after his election. His statements of alleged "Islamophobia" and the comparison of today's Muslims with the Jews in the Third Reich have upset the entire political sphere in Austria from women's rights activists to the FPÖ.
Even the head of the Turkish community in Austria, Birol Kilic, rejected the president's statement.
The idiocy of such proclamations makes it clear that Alexander Van der Bellen is unfit for the office he holds. It is as if the nice old professor became the defense lawyer of the Islamists. Cute, but not really.
A dismissal of the Austrian president is unlikely due to the parliamentary majorities in Austria, but Van der Bellen has managed to discredit himself so completely that only the most extreme left will remain among his supporters.
The original German follows below.
Alexander Markovics is an Austrian writer and sometimes muckraker who lives in Vienna. Background in history and politics. You can read more of his fine work (in German) here, or
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