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By Stefan Apfl & Matthias G. Bernold
Behind the scenes, politics & business has long courted immigrants

Two weeks ago, the Orient and Occident collided in a pub by the same name in Vienna’s Naschmarkt.

Three Turkish-speaking television teams adjust their cameras, a dozen Turkish journalists pull out their writing pads. They are to report on a novelty: This fall, the mobile telephone company, 3 (Drei), is bringing out for the first time in Austria, a fixed rate package especially for an ethnic community. Five cents for a long-distance call to Ankara and Istanbul, with Turkish TV and radio channels via UMTS streaming. “3 brings ‘home’ to your mobile phone,” says the slogan, which is quoted across the Turkish media the next day.

The media hype in the form of “Multikulti-chic” is an expression of a phenomenon which is fundamentally changing Austrian society: Immigrants are being seen as customers and voters.

Cultural philistines such as the FPÖ (Austria’s Freedom Party) leader H.C. Strache want to prove the civil immaturity of Muslims; Vice-Chancellor Josef Pröll of the ÖVP (Austria’s People Party) holds speeches without even mentioning the topic of immigration; Josef Cap of the SPÖ (Austria’s Social Democratic Party) comments on the election defeats with the sentence “It is time to focus more on the Austrian people”; and journalists such as Die Presse managing editor Fleischhacker characterize political correctness as “crazy,” and the Kronenzeitung headlines read “Large majority for stricter immigration policies; Fear rules on the eastern borders.”

While the media and politics face the immigration question with the same old answers, more and more companies and politicians – hesitantly and largely unnoticed – target immigrants and their offspring.

“We are currently witnessing a quiet revolution,” says the Viennese integration worker, Kenan Güngör. “Public institutions and the economy have discovered the immigrants,” believes Kosmo managing editor Nedad Memic. “In the mid-term, you can’t make money or votes without multi-ethnic strategies,” observes Christoph Hofinger, of the polling institute, Sora.

Read the whole article in The Vienna Review:

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About Matthias Bernold

Matthias G. Bernold ist ein österreichischer Journalist, Jurist und Fotograf. Er lebt derzeit in New York.

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