Last night I suddenly received several messages and phone calls. Shots were heard at Schwedenplatz in Vienna. It was not officially confirmed for a long time, but through private channels the latest information spread within seconds and we knew there were several crime scenes and it was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by radical Islamists. In Austria we had not had terror for a very long time. I can vaguely remember ZIB news from my childhood, about letter bombs of left-wing extremist terrorists. But since the mid-1990s we have been spared. This wonderful time of peace and freedom was interrupted yesterday evening. But also in Austria we have felt the suffering of our neighbours in Germany, Belgium and especially in France since 2015, just as the whole of Europe now feels for Vienna.

It is the aim of the terrorists to unite us in hatred against them and against their perverted form of religion. They want to make us hate Muslims all over the world, to exclude them and thereby radicalise them until they run in the doors of the terrorist organisations, which will welcome them with open arms and send them back to Europe strapped to explosives, on the way to their death and the death of many innocent people. They want to breed an endless cycle of hatred, suffering and death that will slowly and steadily burn down our society of values and our democratic institutions.

But we will not be manipulated. For although we are all angry and many people in the social media immediately started to speak out emotionally in racist and Islamophobic tones, last night and this morning solidarity and the good in us triumphed over terror. Expressions of solidarity from all over the world have arrived in Vienna, from France to Sweden, all the way to Tunisia and New Zealand.

The terrorists unite us in Europe and around the world. But they do not unite us in hatred, as they hope, but in solidarity with one another and in faith in the legitimacy of our values of the rule of law, democracy and human rights, and above all in our belief in peaceful coexistence.

No one has expressed it better than our Federal Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz:

But we must always be aware that this is not a dispute between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants. This is a struggle between the many people who believe in peace and those few who want war.

For those who are still waving the Islamic club around, the story below should be eye-opening. Two Viennese of Turkish origin, Mikail and Recep were on the scene when a policeman and a woman were shot. They ran into the middle of the action without any thought for their own safety and shouldered both wounded to take them to an ambulance. Most likely they saved both their lives. Finally, Mikail contacted the Twitter community via video message:

“We Muslims of Turkish origin abhor any form of terrorism. We stand by Austria. We stand for Vienna. We respect Austria and are ready to help at any time, the time, the day, the second does not matter.”

On Twitter, Vienna thanked its heroes. These included representatives of the Jewish religious community, which was one of the targets of the terrorist attack. There is no hatred here. The terrorists will grit their teeth on Vienna.

The only thing terrorists fear is not to be feared. That is why their target in 2015 was Charlie Hebdo. That’s why they recently committed a heinous attack on a French teacher who wanted to show why freedom of expression is good and important. Because when there is freedom of expression and satire, everyone can see immediately how stupid and ridiculous these terrorists really are. They feel threatened by the free society because they are powerless in a free society. Their infantile emotional sensitivity to all criticism and intellectual debate is their greatest weakness. I say, let us exploit this weakness. Let us ridicule them and laugh at them. For there is nothing more frightening to terrorists than someone who laughs in their face and shouts: “Piss off, asshole!”

(Originally shouted by a man from a window at one of the terrorists in true Viennese fashion “Schleich di, du Oaschloch!”)


By Dominik Kirchdorfer

Dominik is a European writer and entrepreneur of Austrian and Polish descent. His passion is storytelling and he wants to do everything in his power to give the story of Europe a happy ending. He is currently the President of the EFF - European Future Forum, Editor In-Chief of Euro Babble and EU Adviser to the Austrian Savings Banks Association. Dominik recently published his first SciFi novel, The Intrepid Explorer: First Flight under the nome de plume Nik Kirkham. Twitter: @NikKirkham

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