Intimidating Farid Hafez and state Islamophobia in Austria

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Islamophobia in all of its forms is cancer that is spreading at this moment throughout Europe. People who attempt to stand up to this social ill are intimidated and attacked. Farid Hafez, whom I know personally and edits the European Islamophobia Report, the most comprehensive report published annually on the topic, is charged for alleged terrorism.

Apart from his activism and bringing attention to Islamophobia, he is a non-resident researcher at Georgetown University, was a Fulbright Professor at UC Berkeley and a leading scholar of Islamophobia Studies.

It wasn’t too long ago when I received an email from Hafez:

“[I] write you today in a personal capacity. I am sure, most of you are following the troubling news on the increasing attacks on academia in France and elsewhere. As you are also aware of, an attack happened killing four innocent people in the streets of Vienna on 2 November 2020. Officially unrelated to this event, but in an atmosphere of having to counter-terrorism, the Austrian government raided the homes of 30 alleged terrorists one week later. It was the largest raid since 1945. Unbelievable but true, I was amongst the targeted ones.”

The video below gives a glimpse of Hafez’ case.

Without bringing any formal charges except based on suspicion and hearsay, Hafez is suspected of terrorism by the Austrian authorities. A question: Is this what happens when you can organize your words and challenge state Islamophobia?

In Argentina, where over 30,000 vanished during the so-called dirty war (1976-83), the de facto government’s methods were seen as state-sponsored terrorism.

In the same light, all types of intimidation, promotion, and spreading anti-Muslim racism by legal and official means could be classified as state Islamophobia.

The search warrant alleges that Hafez is a member of an organization intent on overthrowing the Egyptian government regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, destroying Israel and creating a global caliphate in Jerusalem, its capital.

“Would it not be serious,” said Hafez, “this would sound like a joke.”

The political scientist and one of the editors of the European Islamophobia Report, is confident that all the charges brought against him will be dropped.

“I am very convinced that no single allegation will stay,” he added.

The cost of the raid and the action of the Austrian government:

  • The case will take three years in the courts and cost an estimated 100,000 euros.
  • Hafez’ bank account and assets are frozen and cannot sell his house.
  • The Austrian government is drafting a law that makes “political Islam” a criminal offense, which would make it easier to criminalize every kind of Muslimness.
  • The latest hijab ban ruling by the Austrian Constitutional Court is seen as a signal against political Islam by its lawmakers.

Please visit Farid Hafez support group here.