The group, which was founded by former Nazis, published a poem in Hitler’s home town of Braunau, warning of cultural mixing.
The Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), which is part of Austria’s governing-coalition, has published a poem comparing migrants to rats.
The piece, titled “The City Rat” (Die Stadtratte) was published in the northwestern town of Braunau, where Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was born.
Shared by the town’s local chapter, the poem warns against cultural intermingling in Austria and included the lines: "As we live down here, so must the rats, as guests or migrants, even those we did not know yet, share our way of life, or hurry away!"
It continues to warn of the dangers of cultural mixing and of government efforts to assimilate minorities.
The imagery of a rat was also used in Nazi propaganda to describe Jews in the run up to the Holocaust.
The FPO’s SS founders
Founded in 1956, the FPO originally served as a gathering place for former Nazis and its first two chairmen, Anton Reinthaller (1956-58) and Friedrich Peter (1958-78) were former SS officers.
Until the 1980s, theFPO was a marginal party following a nationalist agenda, but from 1986 onwards, the party framed itself as a far-right, anti-elite, and populist party.
The party became a coalition partner with the Christian Democratic centre-right OVP in 2000, the first time a party with Nazi roots had joined government in Europe since the Second World War.
FPO’s appointment as a coalition partner was opposed by the EU, and the party did not attain enough votes to join the coalition in the next election. However, it rejoined government in 2017, after attaining 26 percent of the vote, riding a wave of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.
“The party leaders of course declare that they have nothing to do with the Nazis and so on. Even if we were to accept that, nobody can deny that the so-called neo-Nazis find a home under the FPO today,” Mustafa Isık a local Muslim active in civil society and politics in Vienna told TRT World, explaining further that the party was taking incremental steps in its behaviour to test the waters.
An Austrian study analysing the party’s history says: “The social profile of its voters has hardly changed over the years: The FPO’s voting base is predominantly above average among men, younger people, workers, and persons with a lower level of education.”
Muslims have become the targets of increasing Islamophobia in Austria, with 540 anti-Muslim incidents in 2018 compared to 309 in 2017, according to the Anti-Muslim Racism Report.
“Anti-Muslim racism is a daily problem in Austria and there is a risk that this behaviour i is becoming increasingly normalised in the country’s political and social climate”, said writer Elias Feroz.
Mustafa Isık called on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to take effective measures against the FPO.
“Such incidents should be sufficient to dissolve the coalition. Otherwise we will hear many more of these kinds of events for the next three and a half years. years.”