Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has said he expects Europe to abandon what he called “misunderstood tolerance” in the wake of a terrorist attack in Vienna while calling for an EU-wide effort to combat “political Islam.”
“I expect an end to the wrongly understood tolerance … in all European countries,” Kurz told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, adding that the ideology of “political Islam” endangers “our freedom” as well as the very “European model of life.”
The chancellor maintained that the issue is grave enough to require a Europe-wide response, adding that he already raised this topic in phone calls with many European leaders and also plans to make a fight against “political Islam” an issue on the agenda at the upcoming EU summits.
Speaking to the Austrian media, Kurz also called a decision to release the Vienna attacker on parole “definitely wrong.” Earlier, the nation’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer admitted that the Islamist radical that killed four people and injured 23 more in Vienna on Monday “tricked” a de-radicalization program overseen by the Justice Ministry.
The perpetrator was earlier sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 over swearing allegiance to Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) and attempting to join terrorists in Syria. Yet, he was released just some eight months later since he was no longer considered a threat.
“Had he not been released from prison, a terrorist attack like this could not have happened,” Kurz admitted. Still, the chancellor also maintained that there is only “one culprit”“guilty” of this “barbaric, cowardly Islamist terrorist attack” and that is the assailant himself.
In the wake of the Monday shooting, Kurz apparently sought to ease any potential tensions by saying it was “not a conflict between Christians and Muslims, or between Austrians and migrants” but between “civilization and barbarity.”
Yet, just days before the attack, Kurz already vowed to “fight against political Islam,” although at a national level, in response to another incident that saw a crowd of Turkish youth rampaging through a Vienna church while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”
It is, however, unclear if his statements might have triggered the Monday attack that has since been claimed by Islamic State terrorists that said it was supposedly a revenge for Austria’s support to the US campaign in Syria.
The developments come as France launched a crackdown on extremism of its own following the murder of a schoolteacher, Samuel Paty, who showed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in class – a move that triggered widespread condemnation and protests in the Muslim world. The murder was also followed by another attack in the French city of Nice that left three people dead.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!