Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sheffield GP (My Aunt) Racially Harassed in Austrian Skiing Resort

When racism hits home it is an extremely upsetting and sad experience. It has brought home to me the irony of of watching race in the guise of immigration being high on the agenda of the election and across Europe (Charlie Hebdo, Pergida, Marine Le Pen) and then, suddenly, finding out that a member of your close family has become a victim of this racial charge across Europe. My Asian family are often mistaken for being Muslims. They, like me, are Anglican Christians but should that matter at all? How widespread is racism across Europe and how do Asian people cope with it all I wonder?

My Asian aunt who is a GP in Sheffield went on a skiing trip with my cousin who has Down's Syndrome. They were sitting on benches in a cafe in Mittelstation, Zell Am See, for a few moments before going into the cafe to order food and drink. The owner came out and shouted at my Aunty and told her that it may be alright in her country to sit around and not buy anything but in 'my country' we don't do things like that. The division between his country and her country was obviously based on the colour of her skin. My cousin was unsettled and was rubbing her mother's arm. You can read the rest of the story in the review below left on Tripadvisor. 


My wife was approached by the owner who told her she could not "sit here all day" when she had been sitting for only a few minutes without buying a drink (she was with our disabled daughter and had to settle her before deciding to go in and get a drink). It was the start of the ski day and the place was not busy- a few other people were sitting watching their kids ski, but were not similarly approached by the owner. My wife is Indian and she felt the owner was targeting her specifically due to that. When she went to speak to him to enquire why he had not asked other people to move he became aggressive saying this was "his country"! Oh dear- definitely not what one expects to hear in a modern European tourist resort. The food which we were later forced to eat that day (we took a packed lunch after that) was over-priced, fast food and we couldn't get a seat as it is packed at lunchtime! What a shame as it is in a lovely sunny spot by the kinder ski school area, but racism does spoil the appetite.
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