Austria’s new interior minister is denying that he intended any provocation in saying asylum-seekers should be held in a “concentrated” fashion at accommodation centers.
Herbert Kickl is a member of the nationalist Freedom Party, which last month became the junior partner in Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s center-right government. The party, which has long taken a hard anti-migration line, attracts a neo-Nazi fringe though it’s publicly disassociated itself from decades of covert anti-Semitism.
At a news conference Thursday on annual asylum developments, Kickl mentioned the possibility of holding asylum-seekers “in a concentrated way in one place” as authorities try to speed up proceedings.
A reporter, apparently with concentration camps in mind, asked whether the choice of words was a deliberate provocation. Kickl replied: “I don’t see where the provocation is supposed to be.”
A German TV station has apologized after revising the age of a Syrian refugee featured in a documentary about a teenage romance.
Children’s channel Kika came under fire this week for initially claiming the protagonist’s age was 17, then changing it to 19.
The move has fuelled public debate about how to ensure asylum-seekers claiming to be under 18 are actually minors, entitling them to additional support and protection.
Some politicians have called for age checks using X-ray or DNA tests, but experts question their precision.
Anti-migrant groups also accused Kika of failing to challenge the protagonist’s conservative Muslim attitude toward his 16-year-old German girlfriend.
Kika’s sister channel HR, which produced the documentary, said Wednesday the couple were deeply shaken by the debate surrounding their relationship, but they remained together.