Far-Right Activists Rally Against ‘Great Replacement

“Natural Austrians” are becoming a minority in the country, according to far-right parties, which are marching in Vienna on Saturday to introduce the public to the concept of “remigration”.

A wide range of far-right groups marched in Vienna to launch what they claim is a political solution to the ‘Great Replacement’, a white nationalist theory that claims non-European, non-Western groups replace majority populations in Europe .

“The purpose of this protest is to invent terms and shape concepts and make them popular enough to be picked up by big right-wing parties like the FPÖ and the AfD, and then set in motion by means parliamentarians,” said organizer Gernot Schmidt. said podcast Info-Direkt, a far-right platform that also publishes a widely circulated magazine.

Several hundred marchers gathered at Helmut Zilk Platz, named after a former mayor of Vienna in the 1990s who was killed by a letter bomb sent by far-right terrorist Franz Fuchs.

They carried black and yellow flags and banners with the words “For Remigration” printed on them.

Schmidt is well known in Austrian far-right circles and was previously part of the Ring Freiheitlicher Studenten or RFS, a student wing of the Freedom Party of Austria, or FPÖ.

The FPÖ was once a pan-German party, but rebranded itself as a simple Austrian nationalist party. Its affiliated groups such as the RFS, however, often act as platforms for more radical ideas.

Several FPÖ officials announced their participation in the protest, news that drew heavy criticism.

In a statement on Thursday, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said that the FPÖ’s participation in the protests “presents a security risk” to the country and that “joint protests with far-right groups such as that the Identitaires underline the radical nature of the FPÖ. direction. »

Other notable far-right figures such as Martin Sellner, the leader of the Austrian identity movement, also joined the march.

Speaking at the protest, he said he hoped the term “remigration” would become “more popular than Coca-Cola” next year.

“Dress sensibly and avoid attracting attention”

While the march was announced and publicized well in advance, its exact location was kept secret until the afternoon to prevent “the left” from “appearing ahead and stopping us”.

Schmidt urged people to “dress sensibly and not like you belong on the scene,” effectively warning people not to bring swastikas or other paraphernalia that might draw attention to their political leanings.

“People should arrive at the march as normally as possible and in normal attire… then we will look like people walking around Vienna,” he continued.

Anti-fascist groups staged a counter-protest and blocked the far right by sitting in the streets along their path, forcing the marchers to reorient themselves.

The police separated the two sides with security barriers and dog teams. Several physical scuffles broke out, with both sides trying to break through barriers and the far right throwing objects at police.

Sellner and the identity movement, present in other European countries such as France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, openly oppose internationalism, Islam and multiculturalism and advocate what they call “ethnopluralism”.

According to Schmidt, the idea that Austrians are being replaced by an immigrant population is a non-negotiable fact, and “remigration” is the only way to end it.

“Remigration is the solution to the Great Replacement, which is the empirically provable fact that Austrians have become a minority in their country due to uncontrolled mass migration and births of migrants and refugees who have more children” , he said in the Info-Direkt. podcast, which presents itself as a “magazine for patriots”.

He explained that remigration “would mean the closing of borders and the return of migrants and people who are illegally in the country”.

Officially, Austria does not collect data on the ethnic origin or race of its citizens. According to UNHCR, the country’s current refugee population is around 146,000. The total population of the country is approximately 8.9 million.

It is estimated that around 74% of the population has no immigrant background, while around 26% have at least one parent with an immigrant background.

Schmidt says the protests are meant to show that there is popular support for legislative changes that would pave the way for immigrants or people perceived to be non-Austrian to be “democratically returned to their country of origin.”

“If we organize a demonstration, the media must talk about it and the Viennese will also see it, and then it can become popular. Once it becomes popular, a lot of people will see that it’s a good idea and a sensible response to the Great Replacement,” he explained.

Silvio Hemmelmayr, chairman of the Freedom Youth of Upper Austria, another youth wing of the FPÖ that has been seen as a far-right group by watchdog organizations in the country, is also expected to attend.

The groups have recently stepped up their rhetoric about the “great population exchange” or Bevölkerungsaustausch, which they say is being carried out according to a secret plan to wipe out ethnic Austrians.

Membership issues

While some argue that Austrian identity is clearly distinct from German, especially when it comes to a broader membership of the Catholic Church instead of Protestantism, the country’s far right rarely encourages a Austria-centric approach.

Instead, they insist on what could be defined more precisely as a German-Austrian identity, or one that does not include Slavs, Italians and other minority groups who have lived in the country for centuries. Newer immigrant groups are on their extreme exclusion list.

Michael Colborne, a Bellingcat journalist and expert on Europe’s far-right groups, says Saturday’s march is a manifestation of this radical belief that everyone deemed non-Austrian has no place in the country.

“They are saying explicitly, as politely as possible, that millions of people, including people who have nationality and were born in the country, should be deported,” he explained.

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