From now on, asylum seekers from the age of 15 will be taught about the history of Jewish life in Austria and the ban on denying the Holocaust, and this is compulsory. They should also be sensitized to anti-Semitism and how to fight it. This was stated by Integration Minister Susanne Raab and Chancellor’s Office Minister Karoline Edtstadler (both ÖVP) at a joint press conference.
So far, the mandatory values course for asylum seekers and those entitled to subsidiary protection has covered eight hours. It was introduced in 2017 with the Integration Act. The focus was on learning German, entering the labor market and volunteering. Now the value course has been extended from 8 to 24 hours. A key focus here is on anti-Semitism and Judaism.
With the measure, politicians are reacting to the latest studies that show stronger anti-Semitism among Muslim migrants. Previous work with immigrants and refugees has also revealed a special need for more information and awareness-raising. The measure should also be part of the national strategy against anti-Semitism.
The Jewish Community (IKG) is in charge of the new module. Sensitization should be raised for all forms of anti-Semitism in order to recognize and counteract them. The history of Jewish life in Austria should also be conveyed, as well as Austria’s responsibility in connection with the Holocaust. The course participants also learn: Discrimination against Jews, denial, trivialization and approval of National Socialist crimes are prohibited by law in Austria and will be punished. It is worked out how to act with civil courage against anti-Semitism.
Susanne Raab emphasized: “Anti-Semitism, no matter where it comes from, has no place in Austria.” Therefore, an offensive against anti-Semitism is also needed in the area of integration. Karoline Edtstadler affirmed: “Our vision is a society free from anti-Semitism and a prosperous Jewish life. The workshops of the Austrian Integration Fund make an important contribution to prevention work.”
IKG President Oskar Deutsch made it clear that it was “not just about anti-Semitism”. “Judaism belongs to Austria like milk to a melange. It is important to make this clear to everyone, regardless of whether they were born here or have only recently lived in Austria.”