‘Why Were You Reading That?’: Vienna Cops’ Question to Female Student Viciously Assaulted on Subway While Holding Jewish Book
Police officers in Vienna were under extra scrutiny on Friday in the wake of a woeful response from two street cops to a complaint of serious antisemitic harassment from a frightened 19-year-old student.
The unnamed student, from the region of Carinthia, is a Jewish Studies major at a university in the Austrian capital. Earlier this week, she was traveling on Vienna’s underground rail system, the U-Bahn, while reading a book with the visible title, “The Jews in the Modern World.” Three men in the same carriage spotted what the student was reading and proceeded to shower her with vicious insults. Calling her “Jew slut” and “child murderer,” the men also pulled her hair, according to Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper.
The shocked student exited the train at the next station and found two police officers at street level. However, when she described the incident, the officers questioned her choice of reading material, asking whether she thought it was appropriate to read a book with such a title during a “time of such conflict.”
The two officers also asked the victim whether she was Jewish. When she replied that she was not, she was wrongly told that she was not eligible to file a complaint of antisemitism.
When she turned up at a police station, the young woman met with a similarly disinterested response. When she asked whether the perpetrators could be apprehended, she was informed that this would be “difficult,” and advised to “forget about” the entire outrage.
Media enquiries to the Vienna State Police Directorate and the Austrian Ministry of the Interior were responded to with the assurance that such complaints were being taken “very seriously,” and that the responsible city police command had been instructed to investigate the incident.