The following video report from the Kronen Zeitung features a woman called “Maria” who used to work as a translator for “refugees” who had recently arrived in Austria. She herself is an Iraqi refugee — a real one, a Christian — who came to Austria decades ago. Because she spoke Arabic to the new arrivals and did not immediately reveal herself as a Christian, they freely discussed with her their reasons for coming to Europe, and their expectation that eventually Islam will dominate in Austria.
00:00 This is again [unintelligible] Live talk, nice to have you with us. Today we have as a guest
00:05 in the newsroom the Iraqi Christian Maria — this is a nickname,
00:10 she wants to remain anonymous — who worked in Vienna in a charity helping the refugees
00:15 because of she was fluent in Arabic, of course, and therefore understood everything the refugees
00:20 were saying to each other. And when she informed her employer about it
00:25 (she worked several months in the support of refugees),
00:30 her contract was simply no longer renewed. Yes, we’re trying to find out what exactly happened
00:35 Maria, first of all: thank you for the courage to come to us. —My pleasure. —What have you heard?
00:40 What are they saying, those refugees who arrive in Austria? What do they say to each other?
00:45 First we need to acknowledge that those refugees arrive from
00:50 a region where there has been a religious war for decades.
00:55 This means they are fleeing from their region.
01:00 They have risked their lives to come to Europe,
01:05 and not to any of the Muslim countries, partially because they really wanted
01:10 a quiet life, but the other part is already programmed and planned.
01:15 So for the refugees is it also about being able to further practice their religion?
01:20 And they heard that in Austria, where there is religious freedom, it would be possible? — Yes.
01:25 And if I understand it correctly, they were then surprised themselves, when they arrived here,
01:30 how freely in can be practised. —They were surprised themselves, that it was THIS
01:35 free, that there is so much religious freedom in Austria.
01:40 And so much freedom for their religion. And they told me: in our countries
01:45 many things wouldn’t be allowed, and Austria is allowing all that in the name of religious
01:50 freedom. —This means that the freedom to practice Islam
01:55 is greater than it ever was in their homeland? —Yes.
02:00 Because there… Why are they fleeing from those countries? Because there, there is only
02:05 religious war since the fall of Saddam Hussein: Sunni against Shia,
02:10 and then Shia against other groups, also against
02:15 the Adnan [an Arab tribe]. And they all fought against each other. And they come here,
02:20 they believe that because they come from over there, they would be welcomed
02:25 by associations and by the radicals who gave them this information,
02:30 that here they could further practice their religion
02:35 and in the future Austria will belong to them.
02:40 This means that the associations support the refugees,
02:45 concerning the effort to practice their religion in the freest possible way.
02:50 It’s come up in the National Assembly election; a fight with [Peter] Pilz [former Green leader];
02:55 there is always a subject with [unintelligible], for example. You’re a Christian. The refugees
02:59 didn’t notice that right away; you weren’t wearing a cross, but you weren’t wearing a veil either,
03:05 during all those discussions. How were you treated personally?
03:10 They hugged me at first and they greeted me in a very friendly way,
03:15 because I was one of them, and for that reason they could talk freely with me.
03:20 Because they thought that you were Muslim? — They thought that I was Muslim.
03:25 I didn’t tell them, because I have been in Austria for many years and I know that religion is
03:30 a private matter. And I meet those people as fellow humans and not as
03:36 Muslim or Christian or Jew, or something else. And then for them
03:41 religion is always a defining characteristic. They
03:46 come from there and here still it is a defining characteristic.
03:49 And they told me that that here they want to prevail with their
03:56 demands , with their… they told us
04:01 that here they can demand everything they want from the state.
04:06 Because there is religious freedom, and they can demand it all. —So not only
04:09 large financial demands now, but also from the religious point of view,
04:13 so they could practice it as much as possible. —Of course.
04:16 And they said it would be the objective — and they also discussed it with one another, when they
04:20 were observed — they wanted to get as many Austrians as possible to convert to Islam, because
04:25 Islam is — so they say — the ONLY religion. What did you hear about it? — Well,
04:31 this is the message, because they don’t know anything else.
04:36 For the last 20 years only religion rules over there. What do you expect from those
04:41 men who come to Austria, with this ideology in their heads?
04:46 And then they get the state’s support? And by the state I mean
04:51 it’s not on purpose, but in the name of democracy and freedom, and
04:56 what do they expect from the associations they go to and they say, “Send your kids to Islamic
05:01 kindergarten, send your kids to the mosque on Saturday and Sunday.”
05:06 According to the Islamic religion
05:11 an 8-year-old girl has to wear a veil, it’s a must!
05:16 I didn’t experience anything like that 20, 30 years ago in Iraq in my time.
05:21 Yes. So the refugees themselves cannot help it? They are simply taking advantage
05:26 of the very liberal laws in Austria, they are simply using them for their purpose. —Yes. —And you
05:31 Think, and you told me that before the interview, that we need to appeal to the politicians to
05:36 make the laws on religious freedom more restrictive, since refugees just take advantage of them,
05:41 of what they have right to? —Correct. —Nothing wrong with that, but it goes much further than
05:46 what they were ever allowed to do in their home countries. —Yes. I’m always saying that
05:51 special times call for special rules and special laws. And
05:56 we are in such times. —Iraq, 30 years ago, …even Egypt
06:01 were like here in Austria 30 years ago. We used to have a free
06:06 society in which we lived. And I would advise every politician
06:11 to spend a couple of days over there; and then they could get a good picture
06:16 of what is going on over there. And what the refugees are bringing with them
06:19 from there. It means that politicians here have to act.
06:26 And when a minister for example wants a law against full veils,
06:29 against full veiling, then he is harassed, slandered; well, I think
06:36 this is unacceptable. —But it would be necessary to do this. —It is necessary,
06:39 it is very necessary, otherwise in 20 years at the latest, Austria
06:47 will be the Afghanistan or Iraq of today. —Of course this is a very strong statement.
06:52 In general, to finish up, you as a Christian, when you understood all that,
06:57 you reported that to your employer, and you think that exactly for that reason
07:02 probably he didn’t renewed your contract, and you are suggesting by that it meant,
07:07 between the lines, that the aid organizations weren’t at all interested
07:12 in informing the public about what the refugees were talking about with one another.
07:17 Bottom line: they [the aid organizations] would like to sweep it under the rug. Is it the case?
07:22 Well, I think so as well, because it’s not possible otherwise: one has to be able to criticize
07:27 when there are problems, one has to be able to mention and discuss them.
07:32 And I haven’t done anything other than talk about the problems I saw.
07:37 I, as Christian, when I was in my country,
07:42 when I was persecuted, I didn’t want to leave my country, but they said: you Christians,
07:47 you don’t belong here. Go to your unbelievers!
07:52 To Europe for example. —Fine, so we acknowledged that.
07:57 We came here. We also lived here with Muslims,
08:02 in freedom. Right? Because here everybody is equal.
08:07 But through this refugee crisis, what I now experience is that I am being
08:12 discriminated against twice: because no matter where I’m going,
08:15 because of NOT wearing the veil, I am discriminated against as a Christian,
08:22 once in my country and once in an European country. —And at the very end [of the interview]
08:27 you are now unemployed. The whole thing happened last year, you were working with the refugees
08:32 for six months. And since then you haven’t been able to find work any longer.
08:35 I have no job, but I don’t depend on state welfare. Above all I’m trying
08:42 to help Austria, so this aid [to the refugees] won’t harm Austria.
08:47 Maria, thank you very much for the courage to tell us all that.
08:52 When one cannot speak Arabic, one has no access to that, and you were doing it for
08:57 half a year. Thank you for visiting the studio. And to viewers, thank you for your interest
09:01 in this fascinating story. We’ll see each other again at the next opportunity, at Live Talk.