UN: Austria does too little against radicalization

Too much punishment, too little preventive work and a social policy that aggravates the problem: this was how UN experts described the Austrian approach to fighting radicalism.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
UN: Austria does too little against radicalization - NewsMavens
Austrian parliament, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

A United Nations commission concluded that Austria does too little to prevent radicalization after assessing the situation during a nine-day fact-finding mission.

When a country puts too much emphasis on punishment and too little on prevention, it risks promoting radicalization and extremism rather than curbing the phenomena, says Gabor Rona, chairman of the UN working group.

And according to the report, this is exactly what Austria is doing.

“Government policies aimed at combatting what it refers to as “political Islam” also raised serious concerns as this may be misused to breed further discrimination and violations of human rights to freedom of religion, expression, association and political activities. Backlash against such policies may further alienate those susceptible to radicalization,” said Gabor Rona.

Rather than seeking to punish, the country should look into the causes of radicalization, experts argue. But the political climate in Austria is not conducive to these types of measures.

Details from the story:

  • Austria has one of the highest percentages of foreign fighters in conflict regions, according to the UN.
  • Around 317 people have joined terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, including Daesh and Al-Nusra.
  • Many of them come from socially disadvantaged families in Austria and have been lured by financial promises.
  • The UN commission recommends that Austria pursue a comprehensive strategy for deradicalization, which should also involve communities and NGOs.
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