Why this story matters:
The numbers leave little doubt as to the seriousness of the phenomenon; over the last ten years, Austria has seen a steep and continuous increase in Nazi activity (illegal in Austria), which culminated in a record-breaking high in 2017. What is less clear, however, are the reasons for this increase.
It could be that the online sphere in general and social media in particular offer an ideal platform for such crimes, therefore enticing more offenders than before. This theory is supported by the fact that Germany is also experiencing a similar trend.
It could also be that prosecutors are better trained and more sensitive to hate speech, leading in an increased number of cases.
Or maybe the political climate is conducive to the spread of this phenomena. Whatever the case, there can no longer be any doubt that there is more and more Nazi activity in Austria.
Let the numbers speak
- Austria's Prohibition Act forbids the approval and dissemination of the criminal Nazi ideology, which has cost millions of lives. Public denial of these crimes can result in imprisonment.
- According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice, 119 sentences were given for violations of the Prohibition Act out of 214 cases.
- For comparison, in 2016, there were 85 verdicts after 213 indictments, and in 2015 only 79 out of 167.
- There was also a dramatic increase of convictions in hate speech, which criminal law defines as inciting abuse and contempt of religious or ethnic groups. There were 107 convictions in the 2017, more than double the 49 convictions of 2015.