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Austria warns of ‘influx’ in extremist right-wing scene

By AFP - Jan 22,2024 - Last updated at Jan 22,2024

VIENNA — Austria’s interior ministry on Monday warned of a “noticeable influx” in the country’s extreme right scene, announcing it arrested two men in separate cases.

Hundreds of thousands joined rallies against the far-right AfD Party in neighbouring Germany on Sunday, sparked by a report revealing that AfD members had discussed the expulsion of immigrants and “non-assimilated citizens” at a meeting with extremists.

Among the participants at the talks was Martin Sellner, who leads Austria’s Identitarian Movement, which subscribes to the “great replacement” conspiracy narrative that claims there is a plot to replace Europe’s “native” white population by non-white migrants.

“The so-called ‘New Right’ currently represents the greatest challenge in the area of right-wing extremism,” Austria’s interior ministry said, naming the Identitarian Movement as part of this grouping.

“There is currently a noticeable influx into the scene, although exact numbers are difficult to determine,” it added.

Two men have been arrested in separate cases since last month, a 20-year-old for allegedly being involved in the international white supremacist group Feuerkrieg Division, and a 40-year-old for allegedly subscribing to Nazi ideology, it said.

The 20-year-old is being held while investigations are going on, the statement added.

The “New Right” “are taking advantage of all the crises of the past few years... to strengthen their structure and propaganda”, it added, citing the COVID pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and inflation.

It evoked the “high affinity for weapons” of the “New Right”, citing past incidents of “violent tendencies, riots and attacks on the police”.

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