15:17 GMT18 September 2020
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    The Austrian President has intervened in the furor surrounding Vienna's first baby of 2018, a girl called Asel born to Muslim parents in Vienna. Asel and her parents faced a torrent of online abuse after her birth was announced in the press.

    In a Facebook post, which came after the family was bombarded with abusive comments online, President Alexander Van der Bellen congratulated the girl and her parents, writing, "Welcome, dear Asel!"

    When Asel was announced as Vienna's first baby of 2018, online news stories were flooded with negative comments. According to Austrian news website Heute, readers wrote hateful comments such as "I'm hoping for a sudden infant death," "When she's 18, she'll already be a terrorist," and "remove the scum immediately." The authors of the comments may face prosecution under Austria's law on incitement to hatred.

    On Friday, there was further controversy after a supportive Facebook post from the general secretary of the Vienna branch of the Catholic charity Caritas, Klaus Schwertner, was deleted due to complaints, and then restored after an online outcry.

    Schwertner, who believes his post was deleted after a concerted campaign to complain, has subsequently posted in praise of the many Austrians who have since shown their online support for Asel and her family. 

    According to Schwertner, over 36,000 people had congratulated Asel by Sunday, far outweighing the number of those who had abused her.


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