Austrian Presidential Candidate Questions Loyalty Of Turks In Europe

Tens of thousands of Turks in Germany and Austria gathered to protest the attempted coup against Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Austrian presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, said the protests were worrying and that Austrians’ parents and grandparents did not make sacrifices to rebuild the country after “the horrors of war” for “irresponsible” politicians to bring huge numbers of immigrants to the country.

Turks in Germany protested on Friday night and Saturday morning against the attempted coup, proclaiming their loyalty to Mr. Erdoğan. Demonstrating in towns and cities across the nation, around 15,000 Turks gathered in North Rhine-Westphalia alone.

After the news of the coup attempt in Turkey reached the Austrian media, late on Friday night, about 4,000 people gathered in front of the Turkish Embassy in Vienna to organise a rally.

Many of those marching waved Turkish flags while others brought huge posters of President Erdoğan, printed on fabric and paper.

The following day Turks rallied in support of Erdoğan again in Germany and Austria. In Vienna’s Christian Brother Square, the crowd chanted nationalist slogans in Turkish. The main chants were “My life is for the homeland” and “Today’s warriors never die and the country [Turkey] is divided never”. According to police estimates, Saturday’s demonstration in Vienna was attended by some 1,200 people.

The crowds also chanted against the man President Erdoğan accuses of having hatched the coup, Fethullah Gülen. According to Kurier, protesters repeatedly shouted “Allahu akhbar” towards Mr. Gülen, who preaches a peaceful and moderate version of Islam.

President Erdoğan has had Mr. Gülen in his sights before, having issued an arrest warrant for the Turk, who is living in exile in the U.S., and has arrested more than 20 journalists working for media outlets thought to be sympathetic to his teachings.

While the police claimed the protests in Vienna were “very quiet”, they confirmed that there were injuries after a “scuffle” at a Kurdish restaurant.

Mr. Hofer, the populist Freedom Party’s presidential candidate, condemned the displays on Facebook.

The presidential candidate wrote that he is “worried about the demonstrations by Turkish nationals” and said Austria is not the place to protest Turkish politics on the streets. He said the distinctive greeting of the “Grey Wolves” was heard at the protests, a movement which he said is responsible for “terrorism and murder”. An ultra-nationalist group, the Grey Wolves mock and deny the genocide of Armenians that was carried out by Turks during the First World War.

The populist politician said Austrians’ parents and grandparents did not make “great sacrifices” to rebuild their country after World War Two for “ irresponsible politicians” to bring about a “completely false immigration policy”  which has seen Islamic radicals come to Austria.

Writing that Austrians will be leaving the country to their descendants, Mr. Hofer warned that open door immigration policies and “tolerance” towards the behaviour of migrants “form an aberration which leads into chaos”.

Mr. Hofer also stated that many Muslims with Austrian citizenship have gone to fight with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Noting that around 80 of these have returned to Austria, he said that “these people are a real threat” to his countrymen’s safety.

The presidential hopeful’s Facebook message concluded with a promise to look after the interests of his country.

He wrote: “As President I will make sure that the interests of Austria and the people in this country are protected. I’m not going to look the other way when it comes to violence and extremism.”

On Friday, the Turkish military, which sees itself as the guardian of Turkey’s secular constitution, launched an unsuccessful coup attempt to oust the Islamist leader.


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