Right wing governments in Europe are driving through a racist clampdown against Muslims, migrants and refugees.
In Austria the coalition of the Tories and Freedom Party shut down seven mosques last week—and is now seeking deportation orders for 40 imams.
Tory chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, “Parallel societies, politicised Islam or radical tendencies have no place in our country.”
It was meant as a racist threat to all the 600,000 Muslim people who live in Austria. And the crackdown comes alongside plans to ban Muslim girls from wearing the hijab in some schools.
A key figure behind the Islamophobic clampdown is the fascist Freedom Party interior minister Herbert Kickl.
The ground for the party’s rise was laid by the previous Tory-Labour coalition.
It played to racist scapegoating of migrants and Muslims in the wake of the refugee crisis.
Shutting down mosques and deporting imams is allowed under a 2015 law. It says religious organisations must have a “positive fundamental view towards Austria’s state and society”.
Meanwhile over 600 refugees were stranded in the Mediterranean Sea as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday.
The new Italian right wing government refused to let an NGO-operated rescue ship to dock. Now the office of the prime minister of the Spanish state has said it will allow the ship to dock in Valencia.
It is part of broader drive to deport migrants by the coalition, made up of the populist Five Star movement and the racist League. The threat of deportation hangs over the heads of around 500,000 undocumented migrants living in Italy.
Deputy prime minister and League leader Matteo Salvini told migrants to “get ready to pack your bags” last week.
“It is not enough to reduce the numbers of people arriving,” he said. “We need to increase deportations.”
Salvini defended the racist clampdown by saying that other countries were also blocking their borders.
And he criticised the EU’s Dublin Regulation, which means refugees have to seek asylum in the first country they get into.
But the EU is no friend of refugees or a barrier to racism. Around 60 people drowned off the Tunisian coast last week when their boat capsized.
It was a chilling reminder of how the EU’s Fortress Europe policy has turned the Mediterranean into a mass grave.
Kurz is set to take over the EU presidency next month and has signalled he will shift the immigration policy further to the right.
Anti-racists must build opposition to their own rulers and the clampdown by the EU—and fight to open the borders and let refugees in. Beating back the far right also means resisting the state-sponsored racism that normalises them.