Initiative reports a record of reported cases of racism

The anti-racism initiative ZARA recorded a record of reported racist incidents in 2020. In the previous year, a total of 3,039 people turned to ZARA who had experienced or noticed racism. Compared to 2019, this is an increase of 1,089 cases. 24 percent of the reports concerned racism based on skin color. A large proportion (2,148) had reports of online racism, which corresponds to a double compared to 2019.

For ZARA managing director Caroline Kerschbaumer, the numbers do not necessarily show an increase in racism in the country: “We would say that awareness has increased,” she said at the presentation of the ZARA Racism Report 2020 in Vienna on Thursday. ZARA named the corona pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the attack in November as possible reasons for this.

Kerschbaumer suspects that the reason for the strong increase in reports of online racism is that life has shifted even more to the Internet due to the pandemic. Such incidents could also be reported relatively easily, she said. And the topic of “hate online” was also very present in classic and social media in 2020, which creates awareness.

A quarter of the reports concerned racism, which was explicitly directed against black people or people of color because of the color of their skin, said Dilber Bikme, the head of the ZARA counseling centers. This form of racism was particularly well represented in the world of work.

Anti-Muslim racism made up a quarter of all reports received by ZARA, which corresponds to a doubling compared to 2019, said co-managing director Barbara Liegl. An increase was recorded especially after the terrorist attack in Vienna in November. Often women were affected who were perceived as Muslim due to their appearance (e.g. by wearing a headscarf). Many had turned to ZARA for the first time, but had been affected by racist incidents several times before, according to Liegl. Kerschbaumer pointed out that the cases documented by ZARA probably only show a small section of the incidents overall.

On the part of politics, the initiative now expects quick steps. The time was “more than ripe” for the implementation of a national action plan against racism, which was announced in the government program, said Liegl. This must have the goal of fighting all forms of racism equally. The initiative also expects access to justice to be strengthened for those people who lodge complaints against possible police misconduct.

It should be used that the Black Lives Matter movement in the previous year increased the willingness of many people to deal with the issue of racism, said Liegl. ZARA therefore supports the “Black Voices” referendum, the central demand of which is the National Action Plan against Racism.

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