Just a few days after a French high school teacher Samuel Patty was murdered by a Muslim refugee in France for blasphemy, a similar terror attack happened in Austria’s capital Vienna on the night of 2nd November 2020. Several Gunmen opened fires at six points in the central Vienna as a result of which 17 people have been found wounded. Two men and two women died at the spot because of the terror attacks. Police has recognized one of the gunmen as a 20-year-old Islamist Terrorist and the search for the rest of the suspects is underway.
These terror attacks came just a few hours after Austria went into another lockdown in fear of the second wave of Corona virus. Skeptical of the police’s presence, the gunmen opened fires at unarmed innocent Austrian civilians. The attackers also took advantage of the fact that Austrians were enjoying their last meals before restaurants would close again. The attack was initiated hours before Austria was due to introduce new coronavirus restrictions and bars and restaurants in the network of narrow streets known to locals as the “Bermuda triangle” were packed. A witness had said that a gunman had started randomly shooting people coming out of nowhere.
The Austrian interior minister Karl Nehammer described the dead gunman as an Islamist terrorist who was jailed for 22 months in April 2019 after trying to get to war-torn Syria to join Islamic State of the Iraq and Levant (ISIS) jihadists. The 20-year-old had been released early last December under more lenient terms for young adults. The only dead gunman is being described as an alleged former member of ISIS or at least an Islamist who was coveting to join the terrorist organization. The man was originally from North Macedonia and held both Macedonian as well as Austrian nationalities.
The six areas which came under attacks included Seitenstettengasse and nearby Morzinplatz, Salzgries, Fleischmarkt, Bauernmarkt and Graben. The Austrian people are utterly appalled and horrified at this incident and have been strictly commanded by the government to stay inside their homes. Three days of national mourning have also been announced by the Austrian government in empathy with those who were shot dead. Schools and public institutions also held a minute’s silence on Tuesday morning in mourning for the attacks.
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz gave a very peaceful and tranquil message to the world despite such a disgusting and violent armed attack at Austrian citizens. He called this attack as a division between his nation based not on Islam or Christianity rather between civilization and barbarism. Austria has yet been quite neutral and peaceful about these attacks despite the alleged Islamist terror attack on its citizens. It has presented itself as a very diplomatic and peaceful European representative in this context.
The whole world specifically Europe has expressed its dismay and anger at these nefarious terror attacks. The German foreign ministry said that they do not know the full context of the attacks yet however they will not give way to hatred which is aimed at dividing our societies. The Czech Republic has started taking preventive measures at the border with Austria in connection with the Vienna attack. The Czech police has started carrying out random checks of vehicles and passengers on border crossings with Austria as a preventive measure in relation to the terror attack in Vienna.
UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson also expressed utter shock and dismay on the terrible attacks that took place in Vienna and has stated that UK stands fully united with Austria against terrorism and extremism. The European Union’s president Charles Michel declared the attacks as a cowardly act that has violated life and human values and expressed his unity with Austria in times of terror and predicament.
The Italian president Guiseppe Conte strongly condemned the shootings saying that Europe has absolutely no space for hatred and violence. The Turkish foreign ministry also came forward in condemnation of the attacks despite being a radical Islamic state. The foreign ministry showed its unity with Austria in its fight against terrorism which has been spread over decades. Just a day before the presidential elections, both the Democratic nominee Joe Biden and US President Donald Trump criticized the attacks and offered prayers for the dead and injured while rallying for their final campaigns.
However, the French President’s reaction did not come out as a very neutral one and was as expected keeping in view the recent advancements in France related to the terrorist activities. He said that the French people share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people and Austria is the second friendly and peaceful nation that has been attacked after France. He also said that Europe must fight against its Common Enemies and he apparently referred to Islam as his enemy in the wake of the recent attacks in France.
In October 2020, a high school teacher Samuel Patty was beheaded by a young Muslim attacker after he portrayed caricatures of Holy Prophet Muhammad in his class. The terrorist activity did not just stop there. Triggered by the blasphemy and French President Emmanuel Macron’s hateful comments towards Islam, another attack took place outside a church in the Southern city of Nice. A Tunisian Muslim Brahim Issaoui carried out a knife rampage in broad daylight which was called as an Islamic terror attack by Macron.
The wave of Islamophobia which started after the attacks on World Trade Centre and Pentagon in September 2001 has only escalated over the course of time. Initially, it was specified and confined to America only. But it has made its ways into Europe as well with the passage of time. The extremist violent terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS have also ignited this hatred against Islam in the West. These terror organizations coupled with the individual based extremism like that which happened in Austria is derailing Islam’s image across the world. Muslims will have to make strenuous efforts in order to portray the true image of Islam towards the world which is of utmost peace and not of violence.
The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.