Austrian right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz faced furious anti-racist demonstrators this week
Around 5,000 people marked World Refugee Day on Wednesday in Vienna by protesting against his attacks on refugees. Some of them crashed his "summer party" at the opulent Palais Schonburg.
Kurz’s guests had to run a gauntlet of whistling protesters.
David Albrich, coordinator of the Human Asylum Platform, which called the protest, said, “Today is all about protecting people who need to flee war, torture and terror.
“The Austrian government tried to reinterpret that day into an anti-refugee event, but they did not succeed.
“Thousands of people have thwarted them and demonstrated for open borders and safe escape routes for people seeking protection."
Activists from various refugee initiatives as well as numerous refugees from Afghanistan and other countries contributed to the protest.
Some unfurled colourful umbrellas as a sign of protection for refugees, others carried home-made signs and posters.
"We want to show that there are very, very many of us who stand up for refugees," said protester Maria Mayrhofer.
Ariane Baron of the Ute Bock Refugee Project said, “We want refugees to be perceived as normal people again. With all their hopes, dreams and fears. What refugees need is the security of living in peace.
"Right after that you need German courses, from the first day. And access to jobs.
“Austria needs an active civil society! Austria needs solidarity!”
Kurz, who is in a coalition government with fascist Freedom Party, has recently proposed an “axis of the willing” with Germany and Italy, hoping that it will push for restrictive border policies at the national and European Union level.
On Thursday Kurz was in Budapest to attend a meeting of leaders from the four central European “Visegrad” states—Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic—who have traditionally supported brutal policies on migration.
The Austrian coalition shut down seven mosques last week—and is now seeking deportation orders for 40 imams.
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.
Kurz has said he intends to make migration a key theme when Austria takes up the EU's rotating presidency at the beginning of July and has been busy seeking allies for his stance.
Anti-racists in Austria have pledged to keep up the fight against Kurz and racism.