06 Feb 2018

Grannies against the right -- Meet the hippest demonstrators in Austria

On February 2, armed with pink knitted “pussyhats” and good humor, a group of retired women marched the streets of Vienna to commemorate Ute Block, a refugee aid icon. It was neither their first demonstration nor their last.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Grannies against the right -- Meet the hippest demonstrators in Austria - NewsMavens
Pussy hat. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

This recommendation is dedicated to the coolest protesters against the turquoise-blue government -- a group called "grandmothers against the right".

This story defies the stereotype that elderly members of society fuel support for the far-right. "The grandmothers against the right" are present at all protests, and they are just as vocal as they are visible. One of their songs goes:

"It worries us a lot that life’s so lousy lately because the Nazi brood groans loud and blatantly! The country is very torn so we say clearly: enough! These gentlemen have betrayed Austria!"

There is little to add other than: “Yes, grandma!”


Details from the story:

  • Their trademark hats are part of an international phenomenon started in the US as a reaction to the then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s sexist boasting about “grabbing women by the pussies”. For the past year, red, pink and orange hats were an intrinsic part of any women’s demonstration. They brightened not only the gloomy weather but also the miserable political landscape.
  • "The grandmothers against the right" refuse to accept the argument that the election results have offered the ÖVP no other option to form a majority coalition than partnering up with the far-right FPÖ. “No one forced Chancellor Kurz to co-operate with wild nationalists," argues member of the group Monika Salzer.
  • Salzer, a psychotherapist and a retired Protestant pastor, formed the group together with 8 other women, for an anti-government demonstration in December.
  • On February 2, roughly 200 people -- both male and female -- joined them in Vienna to form the so-called “sea of ​​lights” in memory of the refugee aid icon Ute Bock, who passed away in mid-January.
  • "It's incredible how much the group has grown in such a short time," says Salzer. Broadcasters and newspapers, also from abroad, are queuing up for interviews while sister groups form in other cities as far as Berlin.
  • Their generation, which rebuilt society after WWII, cherishes the traditions of the '68 movement and will not forgo democracy. Susanne Scholl, a first-time demonstrator, declares: "We are not going back to the Middle Ages."
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