Protest in Vienna – level 3

09-02-2016 15:00

Thousands of protesters have marched through Vienna’s city centre to demonstrate against an annual ball attended by members of European right-wing political parties and movements. The ball is to take place in the historic Hofburg Palace, part of which houses the office of Austria’s President Heinz Fischer.

Organised by the Austrian far-right Freedom Party, the event is part of the annual Viennese ball season, usually attracting right-wing figures from all over Europe, including members of the French National Front and German anti-Islam movement.

Protesters against the ball included members of left wing and anti-fascist groups, many of whom carried flags, and chanted slogans as they marched through the night streets.

“We’re from the Offensive Against Right Extremism, and we’re here to protest fascists and neo-Nazis, and we are here to show the people there’s another world possible, a better world possible, where all the refugees that are coming now to Europe, they are being welcomed.”

Over the years, the annual ball and its counter protest have become a regular flashpoint for clashes between demonstrators and the police. Hundreds of riot police were seen patrolling the streets on Friday evening, but for these protesters, who amassed in their thousands, the message was clear:

“Our goal is to protest this ball and to have it removed from the Hofburg which is after all an official building of the Republic of Austria.”

Difficult words: annual (yearly), attend (to be present), figure (a famous person), fascist (a government where a leader is a dictator who controls all of the people), chant (to sing or to say together), counter (against), flashpoint (a time when there’s violence), clash (a fight), riot police (the police which deals with riots – violent protests), amass (to come together).


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