- Category: Migrant Crisis
Austria's new far-right interior minister has sparked an outcry by saying that his government wants to 'concentrate' asylum-seekers, employing a word widely associated with Nazi camps.
The Freedom Party's Herbert Kickl said he wants 'basic services centres, suitable infrastructure that enables us to concentrate people in the asylum process in one place'.
His comments come as the party's leader Heinz-Christian Strache, who is also Austria's vice-chancellor, said migrants should be held in disused barracks and subjected to curfews in order to restore 'order'
Strache said that the plan should be introduced amongst a raft of drastic measures, such as taking money and mobile phones from new arrivals, to combat Europe's 'open' migration policy.
Alexander Pollak, head of migrants charity SOS Mitmensch, called Kickl's comments a 'deliberate provocation' and left-wing essayist Robert Misik said 'a Rubicon has been crossed'.
The opposition Green Party warned against the 'language of National Socialism creeping into our way of thinking and feeling', while the NEOS party said Kickl must apologise for his 'deliberate provocation'.
Kickl, who became interior minister last month when his Freedom Party formed a coalition with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's People's Party, later back-peddled, saying he did not 'intend to provoke anyone'.
He said the government would implement a 'very, very strict asylum policy' in response to what he said was a rise in crimes committed by foreigners last year.
The Freedom Party was formed by former Nazis in the 1950s and in the 1990s it was headed by Joerg Haider, whose many controversial comments included calling Hitler's employment methods 'orderly'.
On Wednesday, Austria's main Jewish Religious Community organisation said that it would continue to shun any contact with the party, including with government ministers from the party.
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