Within hours of her birth, 47 minutes into 2018, little Asel had attracted the attention of her home city, Vienna, as the Austrian capital’s “New Year’s Baby.”
But instead of good wishes from the citizens who read her birth announcement, splashed across Austrian newspapers on New Year’s Day, the little girl and her family were greeted with a wave of racism, disgust and hate.
Public announcements of “New Year’s Babies,” complete with images of beaming parents holding their offspring born shortly after New Year’s Eve, are an annual mainstay of newspapers throughout the German-speaking world.
But internet rights and refugee support groups say they had never seen a wave of hate directed at an infant to compare with the one that met Asel and her parents, identified by the newspaper Heute as Naime and Alper Tamga.
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“In the first hours of her life, this sweet girl was already the target of an unbelievable wave of violent, hateful online commentary,” Klaus Schwertner, secretary general of the Vienna chapter of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas, wrote on his Facebook page.
“It is a completely new dimension of online hate, targeting an innocent newborn,” he said.
Many of the comments that filled the social media pages of Austrian media outlets that carried the picture of Asel’s family, released by the Vienna Hospital Association, also targeted the baby’s mother, whose smiling face was encircled by a bright pink head scarf.
“I’m hoping for a crib death,” wrote one user. “Deport the scum immediately,” read another posting to Heute’s Facebook page, it reported on Thursday.
Many of the messages have since been taken down, but the paper said they were being examined to see if they had broken laws against inciting hatred or against hate speech.