Teachers and their union representatives, as well as other groups, have been sounding the alarm over the rise in violence from Islamist students who have appointed themselves ‘moral guardians,’ saying that the situation in schools has worsened since the Hamas massacre of over a thousand Israeli civilians on October 7th. The groups are calling on politicians to pay attention to this growing problem in schools, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Thomas Krebs, who is part of the Union of Compulsory School Teachers in Vienna, has called on Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig to act, saying, “We are increasingly dealing with pupils who bring political or religious extremist attitudes into school and reject and mock our values and our rule of law.”
According to Krebs, female teachers and principals have been mocked and threatened by radicalised students who do not take them seriously. He also claimed that the students have tried to enforce a parallel society within the schools by demanding prayer spaces and telling female students what they should wear.
“As I know from teachers and principals, radicalisation can increase to such an extent that pupils slip into gang crime,” Krebs said.
He added that teachers and schools could no longer tackle issues on their own, as many have been threatened with legal action or simply labelled ‘racist’ by the parents of students.
“The responsible politicians in Vienna, Mayor and President of the Education Directorate Michael Ludwig as well as Deputy Mayor and City Councillor for Education Christoph Wiederkehr, must finally take responsibility and take far-reaching measures to stop these grievances,” he said.
Christoph Wiederkehr and Director of Education Heinrich Himmer have responded to the issue, saying they are looking at measures to make schools safer, including expanding intervention teams in schools deemed to be particularly high-risk.
The pair also want parents to be held accountable for their children and attend an interview if their child is suspended. If they refuse, they will refer cases to child and youth welfare.
Alongside ‘moral guardians,’ some Vienna schools have claimed that they have even witnessed pro-Hamas propaganda in their classrooms since the October 7th massacre and heard students defending the actions of the Islamic terrorist group.
In the past, some teachers have spoken out about issues of integration in Austrian schools, particularly in Vienna. In 2016, Andrea Walach, the director of a Vienna school, claimed that few children could even speak full sentences in German, Austria’s official language.
‘Moral guardians’ or ‘morality police’ exist not only in Viennese schools but also in certain areas of the city. In 2021, four members of a Chechen ‘morality gang’ were arrested by Vienna police for threatening to behead the children of another man over an alleged debt.
The four men, aged 21 to 25, allegedly kept files on women for not wearing appropriate clothing, such as the Islamic headscarf, posting pictures on social media deemed inappropriate, or having interactions with men who were not from Chechen backgrounds.
In one case, a Chechen woman in Vienna claimed that she had been followed while with a non-Chechen man, and members of the gang confronted them and knocked out the man’s teeth.
Austria has been a centre of radical Islam for years, with the city of Graz labelled an Islamist “stronghold” in 2017, as it was believed that 11 of the city’s 20 mosques were affiliated with radical Islamic theology and belief and were under surveillance by Austrian security services.