Brigittenau – Pro-Socialist District with a Jewish Past Now Fighting an Islam Center

In this portrait of Vienna’s 20th district, Brigittenau is described as a region that was originally highly influenced by the large Jewish population that used to live here. Unlike nearby Leopoldstadt, however, following the deportations of the Second World War the local Jewish culture was not reestablished. Today it is a multicultural district, with 27,1% of the local population holding foreign citizenship, much higher than the Viennese average (20,1%). The population is also on average younger, and has since time immemorial been governed by the social-democrats (SPÖ).

However, the district has recently made headlines due to local opposition to a planned Islamic centre in the street Dammstrasse, for which a committee has been founded (the Bürgerinitiative Dammstrasse). The initiative has received support from the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), whose leader attended a recent demonstration. The district has seen a significant rise in support for the FPÖ during the last decades, most notably in 1996 when the party managed to reach 30% and break the SPÖ’s absolute majority for the first time.