Vienna. What’s been going on in Vienna’s 10th district Favoriten over the last few days? According to media reports, there has been a confusing pile of information and demonstrations as well as alleged “counter-demonstrators”. For most of the media, the police and politicians, the events would result from a “war imported from abroad” between different “ethnic groups”, which is now being continued in the “problematic district” Favoriten. With this statement we try to give a first assessment of the situation, want to point out missing pieces of antifascist work in Vienna and discuss perspectives.
Originally published by Autonome Antifa Wien. Translated by Enough 14.
It is a struggle between fascists and antifascists, between progressive leftists and far right “Grey Wolves” and between feminists and Islamists.
It goes without saying that it is not a struggle between two different “ethnic groups” that is being fought out in favourites. It is a fight between fascists (1) and antifascists, between progressive leftists and far right “Grey Wolves” and between feminists and Islamists. It is a political struggle that must be called and waged as such. It is therefore also of particular importance to counter the ethnicising narratives of, among others, Minister of the Interior Nehammer and Chancellor Kurz (both right-wing authoritarian ÖVP), who babble about “foreign conflicts”, with political analyses and to point out the effects of associated patterns of interpretation. Both already seem to have the perfect solution: More police in the district and more (racist) controls. This call for a “crackdown” seems particularly cynical when one considers that the ÖVP and also the SPÖ have been cooperating with the “Grey Wolves” and their associations for many years. Anti-fascists have long been pointing out the various involvements of the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” in Austrian domestic politics (http://www.thomasrammerstorfer.at/tag/graue-wolfe/). It goes without saying that the police controls will first and foremost affect migrant youths, drug users and other marginalised groups. Unsurprisingly, the authoritarian measures do not address the actual problem – namely the increased presence of Turkish far-right extremism in public space.
But how are the fascists in the 10th district organized and how can they be harmed?
This question will keep us busy for some time from now on. The current fascist aggressions have already started on May 1, when “Grey Wolves” attacked a leftist rally at Keplerplatz in Favoriten. These attacks were repeated several times until the situation came to a climax last week on Wednesday (24.06.). A rally of Kurdish feminists against femicides at the Viktor-Adler-Markt in Favoriten was attacked several times by Turkish far-right extremists under the eyes of the police. Afterwards the fascists gathered in front of the Ernst-Kirchweger-Haus (EKH), here too the police made no effort to break up the gathering. As repeated in the following days the Wielandpark, a few meters away from the EKH, was a popular gathering place for the fascists. So also on this Wednesday evening, in the course of which there were several clashes between anti-fascists and far-right extremists, which were answered with a spontaneous anti-fascist demonstration to the central station.
On the following day (Thursday 25.06.) the situation escalated further and the first peak of the far-right escalation occurred. Again Kurdish and other left forces gathered in the district to draw attention to the attacks in the context of a rally. The subsequent demonstration was provoked or attacked by fascists on almost every street corner. Besides countless “wolf greetings”, signs of the IS and the Muslim Brotherhood were also visible. After the demonstration was over, several hundreds “wolves” and young people gathered again in the Wielandpark and set off from there to the EKH under “Allahu Akbar” shouts, threw bottles, stones and pyrotechnical objects at the house and tried to kick open the doors. They also smashed the windows of the left-wing Turkish-Kurdish association DIDF. Within minutes the anti-fascists present managed to repel the attack and to make the aggressors flee, while the police watched from a distance.
The next escalation by the far-right soon followed the next day (Friday 26.07.). Hundreds of antifascists gathered as a solidarity rally in front of the EKH – a disappointing number, considering the ongoing threat and after one of the most important leftist institutions in Vienna was attacked by 200-300 fascists. The low level of participation in solidarity seems particularly irritating in view of the very well attended demonstrations against racism and police violence in recent weeks. This makes it even more clear that there is obviously a problem of positioning and assessment of the situation in parts of the Viennese Left. Nevertheless, on Friday, after a resolute opening rally in front of the EKH, a determined demonstration started to march, but was (again) greeted with “wolf greetings” after only ten metres. The provocation was followed by fast and adequate reactions, whereupon the cops kettled the antifascist demonstration for several hours, while the fascists in the district apparently could do whatever they wanted. There were several attempts of the far right to confront the antifascist demonstration and countless attacks against the cops, who for the third time in a row could not and/or did not want to control the situation in the district. The demonstration was finally rerouted to the main station under massive police presence. It seems that even on the third night of attacks in a row, the cops did not know who the aggressors were. Apart from the fact that the rally and subsequent demonstration was attacked several times and filmed by the police from several directions without interruption, participants inside the demonstration were only allowed to leave the final point of the demonstration in small groups with a maximum of ten people following police instructions. The consequence of this dangerous police tactics was not long in coming: some antifascists were attacked at the main station with sticks and wooden bars. This attack could also be repelled primarily by antifascist self-protection, although some people were injured.
Saturday (27.06.) was finally much calmer. A big demonstration with 2,000 participants marched from Columbusplatz to the Turkish embassy. We consider the chosen route as a mistake, because it meant that the district had to be left. It would have been an important sign to march through the district, show presence and move to Wielandpark and Reumannplatz, which had established themselves as meeting places for attacks later.
The attacks of recent days have been attacks on a shared political goal, beyond the constraints of patriarchy, state, capital and nation.
At first it is not surprising that we cannot expect protection from the cops. When fascists provoke, threaten and attack, we always have to defend ourselves – this became more than clear during the last days. But last week it also became clear that there is a huge empty space in the antifascist left in Vienna. We know not enough about the structures and people of Turkish far-right extremism, there is a lack of research and analysis. After the battles in the district it is still not clear to us how the fascists organize themselves, how we can recognize them and whether the majority of them are organized far-right extremists. Therefore, we have been able to come up with impressions rather than analyses of the spectrum so far: Some communication seems to take place on the social media tool “TikTok”. The videos published on this site allow the conclusion that the majority of aggressors are young people. Our impression is that the mob that has been raging in the district over the last few days is a mixture of organized “Grey Wolves” and Islamists on the one hand and frustrated kids on the other. On photos and videos it can be seen that some of the young people are under 15 years old. They talk about collecting stones and threaten leftists with sexualized violence. It is clear that the attacks were strategically and tactically coordinated and that young people were sent in a targeted manner.
At this point we would like to stress that we consider a dialectical understanding of the life situation of these young people to be necessary. On the one hand, they are affected by racism and, accordingly, are potential victims of police violence on a daily basis. On the other hand they are to be taken seriously for their thinking and acting as fascists and this thinking and acting must be answered accordingly. There is no excuse for this. For it is precisely in the male-aligned character, the authoritarian aggressions against feminists, in nationalism and anti-Semitism that the ideological similarities between the different spectra of the far-right become apparent. From extreme right-wing fraternities to the “identitarians” to the “Grey Wolves”, the groups share much more than their followers often like.
If there is one thing that has generally been demonstrated in recent days, it is that our weapon in the fight against all those misanthropists who, in the madness of their ideology, hurt others and accept their death, is our solidarity. We leave no one alone. We stand shoulder to shoulder for a better, a liberated society. The attacks of the last days were attacks on a shared political goal, beyond the constraints of patriarchy, state, capital and nation. Our response must be swift. First of all, we need even closer networking with the progressive forces of the Turkish and Kurdish left in Vienna, so that we can continue to support each other and do research on the Turkish fascists. It remains to be seen whether the situation will calm down again in the coming weeks or whether the attacks will be repeated. In the long term, the aim will have to be to show the “Grey Wolves” that the district is not their playing field, that they are not the self-appointed “guardians of Favoriten” and that their fascist and Islamist agitation will not be tolerated.
(1) We speak here of fascists to make it clear that almost without exception men participated in the violent attacks. This does not mean that there are not also women who organize themselves in the context of the “Grey Wolves” or other Turkish fascist or far-right groups and sympathize with this ideology.
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