Europe

Racial abuse prompts outpouring of support for Vienna's 'new year's baby'

New Year's Day baby Asel (pictured) was subject to online hate. Source: Facebook: Klaus Schwertner

Online abuse targeting a baby born on New Year's Day has prompted a large outpouring of support in Austria.

Baby Asel was born at 12:47am on January 1, making her the first baby born in the new year in Austria's capital, Vienna.

But instead of being greeted with love and support, the family was reportedly targeted in a tirade of online racial abuse.

Public announcements of the 'New Year's baby' are commonly reported in newspapers in German-speaking countries and baby Asel's birth was no exception.

The media was tipped off by a Facebook post announcing the birth by the Vienna Hospital Association, which showed an image of the child with her parents Naime and Alper Tamga.

But the now-deleted post, and many others posts by Austrian news outlets, were met with numerous racially disparaging comments targeting the baby and her mother, who was wearing a bright pink head scarf, according to the New York Times and an article by German media outlet Huete.

The abuse prompted Klaus Schwertner, secretary general of the Vienna chapter of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, to plead for a call to action.

Mr Schwertner called for love to triumph following a "new dimension of hate" in a Facebook post.

“In the first hours of her life, this sweet girl was already the target of an unbelievable wave of violent, hateful online commentary,” he wrote on Facebook.

“It is a completely new dimension of online hate, targeting an innocent newborn,” he added.

Mr Schwertner's post had since received more than 25,000 comments, mostly in support of the family.

Austria took in more than one per cent of its population in asylum seekers in 2015 with voter attitudes towards immigrants becoming stricter due to concerns over security.

Immigration dominated political issues before the parliamentary election in 2017 with the far-right party Freedom Party coming close to winning the 2016 presidential election.

The New York Times spoke to legal councilor Barbara Unterlechner, the director of #GegenHassimNetz, or Against Online Hate, about a stereotype towards immigrants within Austria.

“A certain stereotype about Muslims has become increasingly common on social media," she told the publication.

“Whether refugees or those wearing head scarves, there is no differentiation, but anyone appearing to be Muslim is cast as an enemy of our culture.”

- With Reuters

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