"The state of Islamophobia in Europe continues to be problematic with many policies which we have criticised in previous reports being further implemented, such as the dissolution of Islamophobia watchdog organisations in France. Such developments show the end of a journey, built on Islamophobic exclusions, for politicians. This is why we have chosen Sebastian Kurz’s portrait for the cover of this year’s edition of the European Islamophobia Report. Kurz, who was hailed as a one-time political wunderkind by domestic Austrian and international media, came to power by making Islam and Muslims his number one target in election campaigns. More than that, he was the leader of a conservative government that implemented one anti-Muslim policy after the other, from hijab bans to the closure of mosques. Finally, the overwhelming allegations of corruption, especially in regards to the relationship between his government and the news media, forced him to step down. His political ‘career’ can be read as a textbook example of hegemonising Islamophobia and, at the same time, of how empty populism which is essentially built on anti-Muslim racism can end. Sebastian Kurz accumulated immense power by scapegoating and securitising Muslims, which in the end turned out only to be a screen to hide alleged corruption and increasing authoritarianism. Former justice minister Clemens Jabloner expressed this succinctly: Sebastian Kurz’s regime was “a first step in the direction of a new system of government (Staatsform).” Previous national reports on Austria in our European Islamophobia Report clearly show how the heavy investment in anti-Muslim policies by Kurz’s government were a marker of his increasingly manipulative and authoritarian policies. Eventually, the latter were terminated not least by the independent justice system that rescinded most of his anti-Muslim laws and measures from the hijab ban to the unlawful closure of mosques."
European Islamophobia Report (2021). URL: https://islamophobiareport.com/islamophobiareport-2021.pdf
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