Austria: Mass Demonstration Stops Right-Wing Racist March against Muslim Migrants

Report (with Photos and Videos) from a Hugely Successful Intervention by the Austrian Section of the RCIT

by the Revolutionary Communist Organization LIBERATION (Austrian Section of the RCIT), 4.2.2015, www.rkob.net

 

According to official police estimates, on Monday, 2 February, more than 5,000 people joined a counter-demonstration in Vienna to block a planned march of PEGIDA, the right-wing racist movement targeting Muslim migrants.

Founded in Germany, PEGIDA is now spreading throughout Europe. While not entirely fascist, being rather virulently anti-Muslim and right-wing populist, there are nevertheless many fascists within this movement. This could be seen at their rally in Vienna, where several participants gave the Hitler salute.

Our mobilization was a huge success. The racists from PEGIDA managed to assemble only 300 people, and were unable to march as planned, as their path was blocked by the throngs of anti-racist counter-demonstrators. In the end their “non-demonstration” was dissolved by the police.

Among our counter-demonstrators were many Muslim migrants. Last week the Austrian section of the RCIT and the local Egyptian community initiated a drive which succeeded in gaining support for our counter-demonstration from all the national communities of Muslim migrants in metropolitan Vienna.

The Austrian section of the RCIT participated in the demonstration with a militant and multi-national contingent of about 200 persons. (See the link to photos and videos below.) Among them were many Egyptian, Syrian, Turkish, Chechen, Bosnian, and Pakistani migrants as well as Austrians. Many of these we already knew from our past joint anti-racist and anti-imperialist activities, but a number of new people also joined us. Our section clearly had the largest contingent of any single left-wing organization. We chanted slogans against racism and fascism and for “Equal Rights for Muslims” as well as for international solidarity with the national and democratic liberation struggles in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Chechnya. A number of migrants were sufficiently impressed by both our principles and practice to ask how they can join us.

Formally, the demonstration was initiated by a broad alliance of nearly all centrists and left-reformists. The leading forces among them – social democratic youth and university student organizations, as well as Stalinists – are united in their hatred of the Austrian section of the RCIT because of our consistent position against imperialism and Zionism. We stand for the replacement of the Israeli state by a multinational democratic Palestinian workers’ republic, and support the Palestinian side in every war and confrontation with the Zionist state. For their part, the centrists and left-reformists take a neutral stand; some even support the Israeli army, and all recognize the right of the Israeli Apartheid state to exist. While we support the liberation struggle in Egypt and Syria, they either openly support Assad and Sisi, or take a neutral stand. The centrists – as is their nature – opportunistically adapt to the social democrats and Stalinists.

As a result, these centrist and left-reformist organizations have decided to exclude the Austrian section of the RCIT from the speakers’ platform of any such demonstration. Unfortunately for them, they had to reserve for the powerful Muslim migrant organizations the right to nominate two speakers. To the centrists and left-reformists astonishment and dismay, the Muslims nominated a young Egyptian brother and … Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the RCIT. The Muslim organizations are, of course, aware that comrade Pröbsting is a communist and an atheist, but through our solidarity work on anti-racist and anti-imperialist issues during the past 15 years, we have gained a reputation as serious activists.

Naturally the arrogant reformists and centrists were enraged and tried everything in their power to convince the Muslim leaders to drop comrade Pröbsting as their speaker. Their main agents for this dirty job were, again, the leaders of the Cliffite sister group of the British SWP. Irrespective of their formal anti-Zionist stand, the highest aspiration of the latter is to be accepted by the social democrats and Stalinists as junior partners. To achieve this goal, they are willing to do whatever is necessary to get their reformist bureaucrats’ approval. The Cliffite leaders tried to discredit the Austrian RCIT section by telling the Muslim leaders that we once burnt an Israeli flag. "Surprisingly" this had a rather opposite effect.

We remind our readers that, only a few weeks after the last Gaza war in the summer of 2014, the Cliffites organized a demonstration in which they excluded us from the speakers’ list, but included a pro-war Zionist group! (*)

In the end, the organizers only gave in after the Muslim representatives threatened to stop any future collaboration. As a result, comrade Pröbsting was allowed to speak at the final rally. (See the link to the video at the end.)

On the morning of the same day, activists of our Austrian section – among them Marek Hangler, the organizer of our campaign “Equal Rights for Muslims” – went to a Mosque which had been vandalized the night before by Nazis who graffitied Swastikas on it. Our comrades were warmly welcomed and helped the Muslim brothers and sisters clean off the Swastikas. They were also interviewed by Austrian and Turkish media. (2)

These are only the latest activities in our campaign “Equal Rights for Muslims.” Since early January, the Austrian section of the RCIT and the activists of our youth and workers’ organizations have been engaged in daily activities as part of our campaign. We have received an enthusiastic response from Muslim migrants as well as progressive Austrian workers and youth. Our experience confirms the RCIT’s analysis that the Islamophobic campaign of the right-wing racists and liberal war-mongers in the European governments is met with disgust and resistance by significant portions of the population. These activities of ours are laying a strong and solid base for future solidarity work among Muslim migrants.

 

(1) See RCIT: Austria: Cliffites and “left” social democrats invite war-mongering Zionists to anti-racist demonstration! Report (with Pictures and Videos) of the RKO BEFREIUNG (Austrian section of the RCIT), 21.9.2014,  http://www.thecommunists.net/rcit/austria-anti-krauss-demo/

(2) See e.g. a report with excerpts of an interview they did with our comrade Marek Hangler by TRT (which is the Turkish equivalent to BBC in Britain): http://www.trtturk.com/video/detay/avusturyali-gencten-ornek-davranis-9104.html


Link to Videos: http://www.rkob.net/wer-wir-sind-1/rkob-aktiv-bei/anti-pegida-2-2-2015/

Link to Photos: http://www.rkob.net/multimedia/anti-pegida-2-2-2015/