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Austria presents national strategy against anti-Semitism

The Austrian government presents a national strategy on fighting rising anti-Semitism that includes improving the protection of synagogues, improved education about Judaism and stricter prosecution of hate crimes against Jews.

The Alpine country’s Europe Minister, Karoline Edtstadler, stresses Austria’s responsibility to fight anti-Semitism regardless of whether it comes from the far right, leftists, immigrants or anybody else, Austrian news agency APA reports.

The new measures intend to battle anti-Semitism in all its forms and wherever it expresses itself — from online chat groups to hate speech in corner bars or expressions of hatred against Jews at public protests such as the current rallies against coronavirus regulations, Edtstadler says.

The president of the Jewish community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, welcomes the government’s initiative.

“Jews are always the first ones who are affected” by discrimination, Deutsch warns, adding that the fight against anti-Semitism needs to be an effort by the whole of society, not just the Jewish community.

In 2019, Austria recorded 550 anti-Semitic incidents, Edtstadler says.

“That is twice as much as five years ago,” she adds.

A military police officer guards at the crime scene near a synagogue in Vienna, Austria, November 4, 2020. Several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. local time on November 2, in a lively street in the city center of Vienna. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
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