“Stop the massacre in Gaza – Stopp das Massaker in Gaza” – a huge demonstration against the criminal state of Israel was organized by many Islamic organizations in Vienna. It took place on Friday, January 16, 2009, and started at 3PM from the Westbahnhof / Mariahilfer Straße in the sixth district. They walked along Mariahilferstraße , Ringstraße, and stopped in front of the Opera in the first district.
Over 6.000 men, women wearing Islamic “hijab” and children from different parts of the Islamic Arab and Turkish communities participated in this day of anger against the Israeli massacres in Gaza. The Islamic organizers of the demonstration did not invite the political activists of Austrian parties, even those who support the Palestinians in their fight against the Israeli occupation. The organizers did not invite the Austrian journalists and media either.
Notice: I redacted parts of this article after receiving a call from one of the leaders of the Islamic groups in Vienna. The call came a bit late, after I already published this article. He thanked me for all of my journalistic work and confirmed that he respects my work, and that all his respect is reserved for me. He said that they have their own photographers, but that I am also welcome to do my journalistic work in the future.
I understood that the person who called me was deeply affected by my writing. He tried to explain to me that nobody is allowed to insult me, and he thanked me for what I am doing to raise consciousness about the Israeli crimes against Palestinians in Gaza.
Due to this call, I decided to redact part of my article. Forgiveness is a fundamental way to deal among human beings.
A Female Journalist Attacked by Islamic Leaders
The Islamic organizer expressed their anger due to a female journalist and photographer, me, when I was photographing the demonstration, because I was not wearing the Islamic hijab, they tried to bar me from taking photos. The leaders of the demonstration treated me in a violent way, which is considered as a violation of the Austrian laws. One leader shouted at me when I was together with two male photographers in a car taking some images of all the demonstrators. One leader asked me angrily while he was moving his hand unfriendly toward me “what are you doing there?” Another leader approached the moving car and ordered me to get out while the car was driving. He held my arm and pulled me out, I almost fell on the ground under the car and the demonstrators, because the leader did not stop the car before I got out. Another demonstrator helped me and held my other arm until I stepped safe on the floor.
The unfriendly, angry Islamic religious leaders of the demonstration in Vienna did not behave the same toward the other male journalists and photographers who were with me in the same car. I understood that the photographers were members of the Islamic groups in Vienna, and I was not welcomed to be with them in the same car as a liberal free journalist and photographer who did not cover her head with the Islamic tent.
However, the way how the Islamic reader behaved with me could be understood as sexism and violence against women. This is against the Austrian laws and customs, as well as against the Islamic principles which demand that Muslims be polite in dealing with others. This is the part of the Islamic faith which the extremist Muslims do not understand.
I found that there is no difference between the behavior of the criminal Israeli soldiers and the Islamic leaders of the demonstration in dealing with me as a female, a journalist, a photographer, and a defender of the human rights. The only difference was that I received an invitation from the Islamic organizations to attend the demonstration.
I challenged the Islamic demonstration leaders will and I continued photographing the demonstration until the end. When the demonstration arrived the ring street in the first district, an Austrian friend of mine, a former employee of the Austrian government was making photos. He said that he was in a hotel at the Ring and heard the Police talking about a Palestinian demonstration. My friend said that he remembered me when he heard the word ‘Palestinians’ from the Police, so he ran to the street to see if I was there. One of the unfriendly Islamic leaders looked at me full of hatred after he saw me greeting my Austrian friend in a different way of the Islamic people.
The Anger of the Demonstrators
The demonstrators expressed their anger chanting: “Gaza, the second Holocaust – Gaza, der Zweite Holocaust”, “Down, down Israel”, “Children killer Israel – Kinder Mörder Israel”, “Women killer Israel – Frauen Mörder Israel”, “Israeli terrorists”, “Stop the massacre in Palestine – Stopp das Massaker in Pälestina”, “Leave Gaza live, free Gaza – Lass Gaza leben, befreie Gaza”. “Israeli Ambassador out, out of Vienna”. They held and wore Palestinian flags as well as Hamas and Turkish flags and some black and yellow flags. The demonstrators raised photos of dead children and of the destruction of Gaza. They held signs with different titles and colors: “Stop the Massacre”, “Let Gaza live”, “We all are Gaza”, “Children killer – Kinder Mörder”, “No war, don’t kill”, … They all chanted “Al-laho Akbar Takbier – God is great and above all”, “Israeli terrorists”, “Occupation is a crime”, “Stop the occupation”, “Go to Hell, Israel,” and “Free Palestine”.
The demonstrators stopped before the Opera and continued with their angry chants against the Israeli crimes and murders in Gaza. The demonstration leaders stepped on a stage together with their own photographers and gave speeches about the Israeli crimes and horror in Gaza. They demanded that the international community stop the massacres and the daily murder in Gaza.
Some other demonstrators burnt a big sign with the Israeli david star and the titles “The end of Zionism, children killer Israel” in front of the opera and the police. The demonstrating youth stepped on the burnt sign as a symbol of putting an end to Israel.
Boycott Islamic Demonstrations
I left the demonstrators at the opera. I went home and wrote an Arabic letter (PDF) to the unfriendly Islamic leaders, demanding them to delete my e-mail address from their mailing lists and informing them that from now I would be boycotting their activities and demonstrations, just like the Austrian colleagues. I clarified that the background of my decision came as a result of their sexist treatment toward me as a journalist and as a woman, their breaking of the Austrian laws and the principles of the Islamic faith at the same time.
Islamic Community in Vienna The huge demonstrations of the Islamic organizations in Vienna do not representing all of the Islamic community. These well known organizations serve certain special Islamic interests, but not all of Muslims.
In Vienna, the Islamic society, which does not appear shouting at the demonstrations of these religious groups in the streets, is bigger than these smaller but louder groups who show themselves in the streets. Thousands of Muslims prefer to live a quiet life as part of the Austrian society, far from these Islamic organizations and their religious groups. The leaders who were seen shouting in the demonstrations are represent themselves and the people behind them. Even these Muslim groups are small, very small. But they look like bigger than they are when they come in force to the streets. This was very clear during their demonstrations which were divided into different groups and had different leaders, who all hold different signs and flags.
See more Photos here