BIAAS Voices: Black Lives Matter – In Austria Too By Farid Hafez
The murder of Afro-American George Floyd at the hands of a police officer elicited a global chorus of outrage. To see somebody being ruthlessly killed in eight minutes and 46 seconds leaves you speechless, if not angry and at least in pain--no matter who you are and where you live. In Austria, out of 8.9 million inhabitants, only an estimated 40,000 people have African ancestry (numbers from 2010, including Egypt and Tunisia). Many would not have thought that the Black Lives Matter protest that started in the United States could spill over to the Alpenrepublik. And yet it did. Politician, medical doctor and political activist Mireille Ngosso planned a small rally with for 500 participants. Following the burgeoning interest online, she and other like-minded colleagues then registered a rally for 3,000 people. “We could not believe our eyes, when finally more than 50,000 people showed up at the rally,” she told me. The next day, activist Naomi Saphira Weiser, who founded Black Lives Matter Vienna, organized a protest in front of the US Embassy in Vienna, and more than 10,000 people showed up. So, why would so many people protest police brutality against Blacks in Austria? How do people in Austria relate to the murder of George Floyd in far-away Minneapolis? What does it mean when somebody in Austria declares ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the streets?