Austria Moves Against Extremism

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Austria is the country in Europe that has had the most engaged debate about how to handle “non-violent” extremism that it views as having prepared the way for violent extremist activity, both external (such as the departure of 150 Austrians to join the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq) and internal (domestic terrorism). This week, Austria has taken serious political steps to try to arrest the spread of these ideologies.

In media reports, the new Austrian federal law has been said to introduce “new penalties against the promotion of extremist groups”, in part by “ban[ning] the [display of the] symbols” of a range of groups, from religious extremists like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Iran’s Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas, to secular extremists, whether ultranationalists like the Turkish Grey Wolves and the Croatian Ustasha, or separatist terrorists like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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