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Austrian Media’s Coverage of Pro-Palestine Rallies Fuels Islamophobia: Activists

The way the media in Austria covers protests in support of Palestine is provocative and increases polarization and Islamophobia in the country, say activists.

In an interview with Anadolu, academician-publisher Gerhard Hertenberger and activist-writer Wilhelm Langthaler evaluated the pro-Israel stance of Austria’s media and its manipulative language about demonstrations in support of Palestine.

Hertenberger pointed out that reports in Austrian media predominantly frame Israel’s attacks on Gaza as legitimate self-defense.

“I’m absolutely disgusted that people say the invasion of the Gaza Strip is legitimate. You cannot say on one side that it is murder and terrorism and on the other side that the killings are a legitimate right to self-defense.”

“This is just rubbish. This is propaganda of the worst kind.”

Noting that news reports are generally prepared with a pro-Israel perspective, Hertenberger said the media in Austria is pro-Israel and does not discuss the problematic issues of the Israeli government.

“You are not really allowed to criticize the media in Austria, which is absolutely pro-Israel, because then you are labeled anti-Semitic,” he said.

He noted that demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine are banned in European countries such as Germany and France but are allowed under certain conditions in Austria.

Noting that media reports about solidarity demonstrations with Palestine are presented with headlines such as “Anti-Semitism is rising in Austria” and “Support for terrorism, not Palestine,” Hertenberger said: “It’s an absolutely propaganda-like ideologic language. I think the media on purpose mixes it up to confuse the people.”

He also emphasized that the media’s use of language targeting Muslims in Austria, which has experienced an economic crisis in recent years, is dangerous because it carries the potential to blame a certain group.

“The much bigger problem now is the Islamophobic movement. The Islamophobic movement is much, much stronger, and this might be the reason that the white right-wing party now isn’t anti-Semitic but is anti-Muslim because they know that they get more votes.”

-‘Media has been taken over by Zionists’

Meanwhile, Langthaler said that Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza.

“This has been a genocide. You cannot label it in a different way.”

He said the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has been banned at demonstrations in support of Palestine held in various cities across the country, including the capital Vienna.

“They try to limit us politically by imposing on us the demand that we have to suppress slogans like ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ which we do not accept because it’s a constitutional principle. That expression of opinion is free, and also the right to demonstration is given.

“So we don’t accept this. We insist on this because we don’t even have the mandate to give it up because it’s a demand of the Palestinian people. So it’s their resistance and liberation struggle. It’s not our right to say that we give it up,” he added.

Langthaler also criticized the pro-Israel attitude of the Austrian media.

“The media has been taken over totally by Zionists. We had quite huge coverage, very aggressive anti-Palestinian coverage calling whoever is critical of Israel anti-Semitic, terrorists, Hamas supporters and so on.”

“This is a reality that what you can call ‘media terrorism’ is as intense as ever. Whatever is pro- Palestinian is being attacked in the most severe way. We had a gradual development where the spaces for expression or to have balanced reporting became smaller and smaller over the last 20 years.”

Langthaler said the function of anti-Semitism in the late 19th century and first part of the 20th century has now been replaced by Islamophobia and many of the political leaders who are at the forefront of Islamophobia used to come from an anti-Semitic tendency.

“It is so dramatic that those people who used to base their political identity on putting the blame on others continue to do so, but not now against Jews, but against Muslims. It’s chauvinism, it’s the politics of chauvinism in identity to find a scapegoat.”

Source : AA

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