Refugees who were involved in Halloween riots that rocked the Austrian city of Linz have been enrolled in “values courses” designed to teach them about acceptable social behavior in the country, as police step up operations to prevent a repeat of the civil unrest during upcoming New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The Upper Austrian state government is making every effort to ensure safety in public spaces during the festive season, with refugees responsible for the Halloween riots being moved to new accommodations, and police ramping up measures to protect the public.
“I think the security authorities are well prepared. There are ongoing discussions, also regarding the preparations,” Integration Councilor Wolfgang Hattmannsdorfer (ÖVP) said, as cited by Austrian broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk.
A special task force has been established, including greater surveillance of internet forums and social media platforms where the organization of civil disobedience and unruly events between youth migrant gangs takes place.
The Halloween riots in Linz earlier this year saw more than 200 men, many of whom, according to police reports, were of Syrian and Afghan origin, fight in the streets. Firecrackers were thrown at the overhead lines of the city’s trams causing public transport to be halted, and two police officers were injured during the civil disorder.
Refugees who were involved in the Halloween riots have been ordered to attend special values courses, which Hattmannsdorfer said “are about making them familiar with our values and norms.”
The minority coalition partner in the government, the conservative Freedom Party (FPÖ), has cast doubt on the course’s ability to reduce problems, with the party’s security spokesperson, Michael Gruber, demanding deportation for those found to have been involved in the civil disturbance.