VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s Green Party on Saturday called on an Austrian lawmaker to resign after he compared refugees to “Neanderthals who trample under foot the rights of women”.
In remarks in parliament this week which he reiterated later in a statement, Robert Lugar said most refugees and migrants arriving in Austria were “uneducated, religiously blinded, fanatical (and) impossible to integrate.
Austria has mainly served as a conduit into Germany for refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa but has absorbed a similar number of asylum seekers relative to its much smaller population.
It has angered other European Union states by setting a cap on the number of asylum seekers it accepts – a step Brussels said was unlawful.
The coalition government has adopted tough rhetoric on migrants as the far-right Freedom Party attracts more than 30 percent approval ratings in voter surveys, about 10 percentage points ahead of each of the ruling centrist coalition parties.
Lugar is chairman of the Team Stronach parliamentary group, founded in 2012 by Frank Stronach, an Austrian-Canadian businessman who has criticised the euro and has called for a simpler tax system and a shrunken public sector.
“Now we bring such Neanderthals here who thank God had been extinct in our country,” he said.
In the last parliamentary elections in 2013, Team Stronach got around 5.7 percent of the votes, but it now barely registers in opinion polls.
“Not only is your speech explicitly discriminatory, but it also endangers the safety of all who live and reside in this country,” several opposition Green politicians said in an open letter.
(Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Ros Russell)