Published on 5 November 2020

Interview Crif - "Austrian security forces have not done enough to prevent such attacks", Ariel Muzicant

On the evening of Monday November 2, terrorism hit Vienna right in the heart. Islamists attacks have plunged the lively Austrian capital into darkness. Ariel Muzicant, Honorary President of the Jewish Community of Vienna and Austria (IKG), and Vice-President of European Jewish Congress (EJC), answered our questions.

Ariel Muzicant is an Austrian-Israeli businessman, who served as the president of the Viennese Jewish community for several years. He also is Vice-President of European Jewish Congress (EJC).

Crif : Could you give us key information about the Jewish community in Wien and in Austria?

Ariel Muzicant : There are 8 000 Jews living in Austria, mostly in Vienna. The community is very well organized and has an excellent infrastructure.

Is there a strong radicalized Islamic community in Austria? What are the threats against the Jewish community and against the democracy in Austria?

There is an important number of migrants, who came from Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Chechenia (roughly 600 000). Additionally, the refugee waves over the last years brought some 200 000 refugees to Austria.

About 800 people tried to join the Islamic State, about 350 are back in Austria.

There is therefore an important radicalized islamist community in Austria. The danger is that Austrian security forces have so far not done enough to prevent such attacks.  

What do you expect the answer from the Austrian Government will be?

French President, Emmanuel Macron is discussing with Chancellor Kurz how to change the European policies against radical Islamists. One issue has always been the deprivation of citizenship and deportation to the countries they came from. So far human rights issues have prevailed.

Vienna's attack shows after the recent attacks in France that we need to fight for the European values. Do you think that monday attack will modify the policy of the Austrian Government and of emulate more European coordination against radical Islam?

Yes, I think that especially the Chancellor and the Minister of Interior are going to come forward with harsh propositions and will try to persuade other European leaders to follow suit.

You have been personally very involved with the European Jewish Congress for the security of the Jewish communities in Europe. Do you believe there are actions that should be taken by Governments and Jewish communities to reinforce the security of Jewish populations in Europe?

Honestly, I feel that we have had a lot of successes lately. Security has been improved for almost every community in Europe, but you can always do more.