On Monday night, two central places in the Styrian capital Graz were smeared with Islamic slogans. Both the Styrian Landhaus, the seat of the Styrian parliament, and the St. Mary’s Column, a central sign of Graz’s Christian history, were smeared with the Arabic writing “Allahu Akbar”.
In the course of the investigation by the Styrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a 22-year-old man already known to the police was arrested. The Syrian, who according to the police had already been charged with various drug-related offences and resisting state authority, confessed. He also stated that he had written the words because of his religious convictions. In addition to the offence of grievous damage to property, the police are investigating the possible suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.
Graz’s city politicians also commented on the Islamist-motivated act of vandalism. Mario Eustacchio (FPÖ), deputy mayor of Graz, called for the problem to finally be tackled at its roots and not to continue to fight the symptoms. “Islamist structures must be consistently dismantled in Austria and immigration from Islamic countries reduced to an absolute minimum! The known Islamist mosques in Graz must finally be closed,” said Eustacchio.
Kurt Hohensinner (ÖVP), the city councillor for integration in Graz, explained his point of view in the newspaper “Kronen Zeitung”: the cause of the extremist acts of vandalism was the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. According to Hohensinner, the city of Graz is particularly committed to educational work in order to prevent extremist tendencies. Furthermore, the ÖVP politician emphasised that he wanted to “take action against any kind of extremism with the full force of the rule of law”.
Graz has long been considered a centre of Islamism in Austria. Half of all mosques are classified as extremist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. In large-scale raids against the Austrian Islamist scene, Graz has always been in the focus.