Bar and Peace: Austrian pub bans all asylum-seekers after alleged assault

Published January 14th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT

An Austrian bar owner said Wednesday that she was banning "all asylum-seekers" after alleged harassment and attacks on guests, AFP reports.

Karin Siebrecht-Janisch, owner of Charly's Bar in the town of Bad Ischl in Upper Austria state, said she made the decision after female patrons to the bar were repeatedly harassed by male migrants. The final straw was on New Year's Eve, when one of her waitresses was groped.

"After that I had enough and I decided to ban them all until we find the culprits. I need to protect my guests and my family," Siebrecht-Janisch told AFP.

She also hired bouncers and began charging a roughly $2 entrance fee, which she assumed migrants would not be able to pay.

There are 120 refugees living in a nearby shelter in Bad Ischl, but police say that so far, they have had no complaints about any of the asylum-seekers there.

Austrian rights groups have slammed the ban as racist, but have also said it draws attention to an important loophole in Austrian law.

"Inciting hatred against 'foreigners' is illegal, but using the term 'refugee' or 'asylum-seeker' in a discriminatory way is not an offense under current sedition laws," explained Christina Schaefer of the ZARA initiative, which provides legal support to victims of racially-motivated attacks.

Over the past year, Austria has become a major transit country for refugees en route to Germany and Scandinavian countries. Although many are just passing through, some 90,000 applied for asylum in Austria, one of the highest rates per capita in the EU.

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