Gimme Shelter

This story is about refugees and migrants who came to Austria to seek protection and search for possibilities to build a new life in the context of rising populism. They flee from war and insecurity, from Syria and Afghanistan, or longer back from Chechnya and Bosnia, or they are Roma families just passing by. Many of them stay in asylum centres, Bosnians who arrived at the beginning of the nineties are well integrated and have their own mosque and the Roma occupy vacant plots of land with their small tents. In contrast to Germany violence against refugees is not common in Austria. However in 2016 there has been a sharp rise in attacks. They vary from shooting with an air rifle, settting fire, throwing firework and projectiles at asylum centres and fixing a pig head at the door of a mosque to burning down the tents and belongings of Roma. The offenders are unknown. This trend took place in the political climate of the presidential elections where the candidate of anti-Islam and anti-refugee party FPÖ (Norbert Hofer) had a chance to become the first far-right president of Europe. But in the second run of elections, Hofer got less votes and instead, the Austrian people voted for the independent candidate Alexander van der Bellen.
Refugees at the asylum center for unaccompanied minors in Austria
Two Afghan boys at the asylum center for unaccompanied minor refugees in Feistritz.
In an asylum centre for unaccompanied minors in Feistritz a stone was thrown through the window and firework was thrown against the walls. This was in the beginning of february 2016 and nobody was hurt.
Afghans, refugees, unaccompanied minors, Austria, attacks
Laund Shekok, a Kurdish Syrian and Rohullah Jafari, an Afghan boy, in their room at the asylum centre.
refugees, unaccompanied minors, Austria, attacks
A boy in the centre under the window where the attack took place.
Mid-February the tents of 50 Roma people were burned down in Linz in a forest nearby the Voestalpine industrial area. Nobody was hurt, they were not in their homes at that time of day. The offenders are unknown. Two weeks later, another small camp with 15 Roma inhabitants, including 5 children, was set on fire. Nobody was hurt.
Roma, Gypsies, attacks, fire
A triptych of remnants of belongings of a Roma family in a forest in Linz.
"I was born in Linz and it has always been peaceful here. I don't know what’s going on", says a young man, son of a Chechen refugee, while showing around an empty room in the Mosque with an unrendered wall. It has recently been rebuilt after it was demolished by a fire-attack in the night. Fortunately nobody was hurt and although some witnesses saw the offender, he has managed to elude. The neighbors are a Mosque of the Turkish community, the wall between them was blast away completely. Also in Linz on the 23rd of June unknown offenders have installed a pig's head at the portal of the Bosnian mosque.
Men from a Turkish association are praying in their mosque in Linz that caught fire when the neighbouring Chechen mosque was set alight.
mosque, Islam, Austria, Linz, women, woman, attack, Bosnians,
A woman prays in a Bosnian mosque.
mosque, Islam, Bosnians, attack, Linz, Austria
Men praying in a Bosnian mosque.
In Grieskirchen a barber's shop was badly damaged by a fire on the 19th of June 2016. The shop and the staircase were set on fire. A family staying inside at the time managed to escape through the window. The shop was of Turkish/Albanian origin and the offenders are still unknown. And in Peuerbach, in the night of April 10th 2016, a trampoline was set on fire at the makeshift asylum seekers centre. Nobody was hurt.
migrants, Austria, attack, fire
Workers are demolishing the interior of the barber’s shop, which was badly damaged by fire.
attacks, austria, fire, barber, migrants
View through the soot stained window of a barber’s shop which was badly damaged by a fire.
afghans, refugees, minors, attacks, fire, austria
An Afghan refugee sitting on a new trampoline at the makeshift asylum seekers centre.
In the beginning of June a wooden asylum centre under construction in Altenfelden was set alight and burned down completely. The centre is located behind the animal waste disposal site, the only location the municipality approved of. The offenders are unknown and the municipility is rebuilding a wooden asylum centre at the same spot.
asylum centre, attacks, Austria, refugees, attacks, fire
Former mayor Mr. Josef Leibetseder stands in front of the wooden asylum seekers centre.
attaks, Austria, refugees, asylum centre, fire
A triptych of the newly built wooden asylum seekers centre.
In Hard, a small town in the westernmost Austrian State of Vorarlberg, windows were crashed after an explosion of firework which was thrown through the window of the asylum centre on the 1st of February. Nobody was hurt.
attaks, explosion, refugees, Syrian, Syrians, child, children, Austria
Syrian girls play in the garden of the asylum centre in Hard.
attacks, Austria, refugees, asylum centre
Children playing at the asylum centre.
attacks, refugees, Austria, refugees, asylum centre
Refugees picking fruits at the asylum centre.
All images for this story: