Ditch the city for these under-the-radar villages in Europe

16 of UNWTO’s Best Tourism Villages for 2023 are in Europe.


From Venice to Athens, Europe’s most popular destinations are buckling under the weight of unsustainable tourist numbers.

Visitors are met with crowds, queues and crumbling infrastructure. While locals face strained resources that foster a growing discontent with tourists.

So how can you make sure you’re part of the solution, rather than the problem?

It’s time to explore off the beatentrack. To help you in your search for undiscovered destinations, the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has announced the Best Tourism Villages for 2023.

These are places where tourism preserves cultures and traditions, celebrates diversity, provides opportunities and protects biodiversity.

In short, rural places where tourism is beneficial for locals and visitors alike.

Globally, 53 villages – 16 of them in Europe – received the award this year with the winners announced in October at UNWTO’s General Assembly in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Here are all of the award-winning villages in Europe.

Ordino, Andorra: For traditional stone houses and high-mountain lakes

With a population of less than 80,000, Andorra is one of the smallest states in Europe.

Sandwiched between France and Spain, high in the Pyrenees mountains, the tiny country is popular for skiing and duty-free shopping – but it has a whole lot more to offer.

Ordino is a medieval town lined with picturesque stone houses – one of which you can peek inside at the Casa Areny Museum.

Once you’ve explored the town itself, the local parish is packed with outdoor adventures.

From the high-mountain Tristaina Lakes and Sorteny National Park – the country’s largest nature area – to Casamanya mountain and Ordino Arcalís ski resort, there’s no shortage of panoramic hiking trails and powdery slopes to conquer.

Ordino can be reached on a day trip from Barcelona, Girona or Toulouse, each around a three-hour drive away.

St Anton am Arlberg, Austria: For adrenaline-filled skiing and sensory hiking

High in the Tyrolean Alps, St Anton am Arlberg is the gateway to the Arlberg ski region.

And there’s no better place to take to the slopes as this area is known as the ‘cradle of alpine skiing’ for its pioneering role in inventing the sport. Learn all about it at Museum St Anton am Arlberg, which can be found in a wooden ski cabin.

When you’re tired of snowsports, let your senses embrace the WunderWanderWeg – Wonderful Hiking Trail – which consists of a barefoot walking path, an alpine herb path and an alpine flower trail.

Schladming in central Austria also received a UNWTO award. The former mining town is now known for its world-class skiing, beautiful biking and hiking trails, and refreshing lakes.


Slunj, Croatia: For cascading waterfalls and traditional mills

Most tourists make a beeline for Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, but head to the country’s mountainous interior and you’ll be rewarded with cascading waterfalls and riverside beaches.

The town of Slunj is just a short drive from the famous Plitvice Lakes but offers its own watery spectacle. In Rastoke, 23 waterfalls rush into the Korana River, which is lined with traditional mills.

During summer, take a refreshing dip in the water before cycling through the peaceful Jelvik forest along the river’s edge.

Tokaj, Hungary: To sample sweet ‘noble rot’ wine

Wine lovers shouldn’t miss the historic Hungarian town of Tokaj. It is the centre of the Tokaj-Hegyalja wine district – home to Tokaji, the original ‘noble rot’ wine.

This sweet, complex tipple relies on botrytis, a special type of fungus that attacks overripe grapes and turns them into shrivelled, sugary berries. This process requires weather conditions unique to the region and the grapes are harvested by hand.


Needless to say, no visit is complete without a wine tasting session and a trip to Tokaj’s World Heritage Wine Museum.

Lerici, Italy: To experience the Italian Riviera sustainably

Lerici, on Italy’s northwest coast, is dotted with the kind of iconic colourful buildings that Cinque Terre is known for.

But it’s the town’s commitment to the blue economy that has earned it recognition from UNWTO.

It is home to the Santa Teresa Smart Bay – Italy’s first underwater ‘living’ laboratory. Here, scientists monitor for destructive ocean acidification by observing the growth rate of bryozoans – aquatic invertebrate animals.

This research will help in their mission to protect the bay’s delicate ecosystem and encourage sustainable tourism in the area.


Sortelha, Portugal: To step back in time

From Lisbon to Porto, Portugal has soared in popularity as a tourist destination in recent years. But the country still has plenty of hidden gems to discover.

Among them is Sortelha, an ancient, walled town that has maintained its medieval and Renaissance architecture.

Overlooked by an imposing 13th-century castle, its rural granite houses paint a scene from days gone by while its wind turbines paint a vision of a sustainable future.

Portugal earned no shortage of accolades at UNWTO’s Best Tourism Village Awards.

Also awarded were the surfing paradise of Ericeira, the green mountain village of Manteigas, and Vila da Madalena on the island of Pico in the Azores.


Valeni, Moldova: For pelican watching on Lake Belleau

Dive into Moldova’s beautiful natural wonders in Valeni, a village in the country’s southwest.

This destination has been improving its tourism credentials since 2014 when Eco Village Văleni was established as a base for visitors to explore the area.

Witness flocks of pelicans on their way to the Danube Delta at Lake Belleau and explore the Lower Prut Natural Reservation, registered in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Siguenza, Spain: For a medieval train journey

Sigüenza in central Spain is known for its fortress-like castle and Museo Diocesano, home to famous religious artworks.

But in recent years this living museum of a city has become stagnant due to depopulation.


It is now on a mission to change that by becoming a hub of rural development – and tourism is a key piece of the puzzle.

The city is encouraging weekday travel on its Medieval Train, which runs from Madrid and takes one hour and 20 minutes. Troubadours and knights accompany you on your journey, using music and theatre to tell the story of the villages and towns you pass through along the way.

Oñati – a Basque town embracing smart tourism – and the historic municipality of Cantavieja also received UNWTO Best Tourism Villages awards.

Morcote, Switzerland: For lakeside lounging

With its postcard-pretty looks, Morcote on Lake Lugano is an irresistible travel destination.

Backed by greenery, arcades of old patrician houses line the water’s edge, welcoming the ferry from Lugnano to this protected Swiss village.


The Swiss town of Saint-Ursanne, with its Romanesque abbey church and medieval houses, also received a Best Tourism Villages award.

Şirince, Türkiye: For a peaceful escape

With a history stretching back to the Hellenistic period, Şirince in Türkiye strives to preserve its old-time atmosphere.

Cars are banned in the town’s narrow streets, leaving locals to get around by foot or horse. 

The hilltop town was a Greek village before the Greco-Turkish War. It is 12 km from the ancient city of Ephesus and is surrounded by vineyards, olive orchards and fruit trees.

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Vienna seeks to calm Selmayr ‘blood money’ furor

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Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg signaled his government was de-escalating a row with the EU’s senior representative in the country, Martin Selmayr, who last week accused Vienna of paying “blood money” to Moscow by continuing to purchase large quantities of Russian gas.

“Everything has already been said about this,” Schallenberg said over the weekend in a written response to questions from POLITICO on the affair. “We are working hard to drastically reduce our energy dependency on Russia and we will continue to do so.”

Austrian officials insist that the country’s continued reliance on Russian gas is only temporary and that it will wean itself off by 2027 (over the past 18 months, the share of Russian gas in Austria has dropped from 80 percent to an average of 56 percent).

Some experts question the viability of that plan, considering that OMV, the country’s dominant oil and gas company, signed a long-term supply deal with Gazprom under former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz that company executives say is virtually impossible to withdraw from.

Those complications are likely one reason why Vienna — even as its officials point out that Austria is far from the only EU member to continue to rely on Russian gas — doesn’t want to dwell on the substance of Selmayr’s criticism.

“We should rather focus on maintaining our unity and cohesion within the European Union in dealing with Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine,” Schallenberg told POLITICO. “We can only overcome the challenges ahead of us in a united effort.”

Schallenberg’s remarks follow a decision by the European Commission on Friday to summon Selmayr to Brussels to answer for his actions. A spokesman for the EU executive on Friday characterized the envoy’s comments as “not only unnecessary, but also inappropriate.”

Given that the Austrian government is led by a center-right party, which is allied with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s European People’s Party bloc, the sharp reaction from Brussels is not surprising. An official close to the Austrian government said Vienna had not demanded Selmayr’s removal.

Selmayr made the “blood money” comment, by his own account, while defending the Commission chief. He told an Austrian newspaper that he made the remark during a public discussion in Vienna on Wednesday in response to an audience member who accused von der Leyen of “warmongering” in Ukraine and having “blood on her hands.”

“This surprises me, because blood money is sent to Russia every day with the gas bill,” Selmayr told the audience.

Selmayr expressed surprise that there wasn’t more public outcry in Austria over the country’s continued reliance on Russian natural gas, which has accounted for about 56 percent of its purchases so far this year. (A review of a transcript of the event by Austrian daily Die Presse found no mention of the comments Selmayr attributed to the audience member, however.)

Austria’s deep relationship to Russia, which has continued unabated since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has prompted regular criticism from its European peers.

Even so, the EU envoy’s unvarnished assessment caused an immediate uproar in the neutral country, especially on the populist far right, whose leaders called for Selmayr’s immediate dismissal.

Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive” | Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Schallenberg’s ministry summoned Selmayr on Thursday to answer for his comments and the country’s Europe Minister, Karoline Edtstadler, called the remarks “dubious and counterproductive.” Some in Vienna also questioned whether Selmayr, who as a senior Commission official helped Germany navigate the shoals of EU bureaucracy to push through the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline — thus increasing Europe’s dependency on Russian gas — was really in a position to criticize Austria.

Nonetheless, Selmayr’s opinion carries considerable weight in Austria, given his history as the Commission’s most senior civil servant and right-hand man to former Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Though Selmayr, who is German, has a record of living up to his country’s reputation for directness and sharp elbows, even his enemies consider him to be one of the EU’s best minds.

His rhetorical gifts have made him a considerable force in Austria, where he arrived in 2019 (after stepping down under a cloud in Brussels). He is a regular presence on television and in print media, weighing in on everything from the euro common currency to security policy.

After Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer recently pledged to anchor a right to pay with euro bills and coins in cash-crazed Austria’s constitution, for example, Selmayr reminded his host country that that right already existed under EU law. What’s more, he wrote, Austrians had agreed to hand control of the common currency to the EU when they voted to join the bloc in 1994.

A few weeks later, he interjected himself into the country’s security debate, arguing that “Europe’s army is NATO,” an unwelcome take in a country clinging on to its neutrality.

Though Selmayr’s interventions tend to rub Austria’s government the wrong way, they’ve generally hit the mark.

The latest controversy and Selmayr’s general approach to the job point to a fundamental divide in the EU over the role of the European Commission’s local representatives. Most governments want the envoys to serve like traditional ambassadors and to carry out their duties, as one Austria official put it to POLITICO recently, “without making noise.”

Yet Selmayr’s tenure suggests that the role is often most effective when structured as a corrective, or reality check, by viewing national political debates through the lens of the broader EU.  

In Austria, where the anti-EU Freedom Party is leading the polls by a comfortable margin ahead of next year’s general election, that perspective is arguably more necessary than ever.

Victor Jack contributed reporting.

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Austrian far right activists protest against ‘Great Replacement’

“Natural Austrians” are becoming a minority in the country, according to far-right parties, who are marching through Vienna on Saturday to introduce the concept of “remigration” to the public.

A wide array of far-right groups marched in Vienna to launch what they claim is a political solution to “The Great Replacement”, a white nationalist theory which purports that non-European and non-Western groups are replacing majority populations in Europe.

“The goal of this protest is to coin terms and shape concepts and make them popular enough so that they get picked up by big right-wing parties like the FPÖ and the AfD and then be put in motion through parliamentary means,” organiser Gernot Schmidt told the Info-Direkt podcast, a far-right platform that also publishes a widely available magazine.

Several hundred marchers gathered in the Helmut Zilk Platz, named after a former mayor of Vienna in the 1990s who was killed by a letter bomb sent to him by far-right terrorist Franz Fuchs.

They carried black and yellow flags and banners with with “For Remigration” printed on them.

Schmidt is well-known in Austrian far-right circles, and was previously part of the Ring Freiheitlicher Studenten or RFS, a student wing of the Freedom Party of Austria, or FPÖ.

The FPÖ was formerly a pan-Germanist party, but has rebranded itself as merely an Austrian nationalist party. Its affiliate groups such as the RFS, however, often act as platforms for more radical ideas.

Several FPÖ officials have announced their participation in the protest, news that drew sharp criticism.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said that FPÖ’s participation in the protests “poses a security risk” for the country and that “joint protests with right-wing extremist groups such as the Identitarians underline the radical nature of the FPÖ leadership.”

Other notable far-right figures such as Martin Sellner, the leader of the Austrian Identitarian Movement, joined the march as well. 

During a speech at the protest, he said he hopes the term “remigration” will become “more popular than Coca-Cola” next year.

‘Dress sensibly and avoid attracting attention’

While the march was announced and publicised well in advance, its exact location was kept secret until the afternoon to prevent “the left” from “appearing ahead of time and stopping us”.

Schmidt urged people to “dress sensibly and not like you belong to the scene,” effectively warning people not to bring swastikas or other paraphernalia that could draw attention to their political leanings.

“People should arrive to the march as normally as possible and in normal attire… then we will look just like people walking around Vienna,” he continued.

Anti-fascist groups organised a counter-protest, and blocked the far right by sitting on the streets along their path, forcing the marchers to reroute.

Police separated the two sides with safety barriers and dog teams. Several physical scuffles broke out, with both sides trying to break through the barriers and the far right throwing objects at the police.

Sellner and the Identitarian movement, which is present in other European countries such as France, Germany, Sweden and the UK, openly oppose internationalism, Islam and multiculturalism and advocate for what they call “ethnopluralism”.

According to Schmidt, the idea that Austrians are being replaced by an immigrant population is a non-negotiable fact, and “remigration” is the only way to stop it.

“Remigration is the solution to the Great Replacement, which is the empirically provable fact that Austrians have become a minority in their country due to uncontrolled mass-migration and births by migrants and refugees who have more children,” he said in the Info-Direkt podcast, which styles itself as a “magazine for patriots”.

He explained that remigration “would mean closing the borders and returning migrants and people who are illegally in the country”.

Officially, Austria does not collect data on the ethnicity or race of its citizens. According to UNHCR, the current refugee population of the country is around 146,000. The country’s total population is approximately 8.9 million.

According to estimates, around 74% of the population has no immigrant background at all, while around 26% have at least one parent of immigrant background.

Schmidt says that these protests aim to show that there is popular support for legislative changes that would pave the way for immigrants or people perceived as non-Austrians to be “democratically sent back to their country of origin”.

“If we organise a protest, then the media has to write about it and people in Vienna will see it too, and then it can become popular. Once it becomes popular, then a lot of people will see that it’s a good idea and a sensible answer to The Great Replacement,” he explained.

Also slated to attend be Silvio Hemmelmayr, the chairman of the Freedom Youth of Upper Austria, another youth wing of the FPÖ which has been deemed a far-right extremist group by watchdog organisations in the country.

The groups have recently ramped up their rhetoric about the “great population exchange” or Bevölkerungsaustausch, which they believe is being carried out according to a secret plan intent on wiping out native Austrians.

Matters of belonging

While some argue Austrian identity is clearly distinguishable from the German one, especially when it comes to a wider belonging to the Catholic church instead of Protestantism, the far right in the country rarely encourages an Austria-centric approach.

Instead, they insist on what could be more precisely defined as a Germanic-Austrian identity, or one that does not include native Slavs, Italians, and other minority groups that have lived in the country for centuries. More recent immigrant groups are on their extreme exclusion list.

Michael Colborne, a journalist at Bellingcat and an expert on European far-right groups, says that Saturday’s march is a manifestation of this radical belief that all those deemed non-Austrian have no place in the country.

“They are explicitly saying, as politely as possible, that millions of people, including people who have citizenship and birth in the country, should be expelled,” he explained.

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The EU greenwashed fossil gas. Today, we are suing.

Last July, EU policymakers decided to greenwash fossil gas. Today, the WWF European Policy Office, Client Earth, BUND and Transport & Environment are taking them to the European Court of Justice.

We are doing it to reassert a basic truth: all fossil fuels are dangerous for the planet. Only last summer, European cities baked under fierce heatwaves, rivers across our continent ran dry, and whole swathes of France, Spain, and Portugal were burned by unprecedented wildfires. In the midst of this devastation, the EU approved a new chapter of its supposed green investment guidebook — the EU Taxonomy — which stated that fossil gas-fired electricity is ‘green’. In fact, fossil gas is a fossil fuel that can cause plumes of methane that harm the climate just as badly as coal.

However, under the guise of climate action, the gas Taxonomy could divert tens of billions of euros from green projects into the very fossil fuels which are causing those heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires. This is while scientific experts at the International Energy Agency and the United Nations continue to stress that we must halt any expansion of fossil fuels and invest exclusively in developing clean energy sources. Even the EU’s own experts have said we must use much less gas by 2030. The gas Taxonomy is not just at odds with the science: it also flies in the face of market dynamics. Renewable investments across the world reached $500 billion last year, which shows that there is already a massive, readily available alternative to gas-fired power.

For all these reasons, having previously filed a request for the Commission to review the gas Taxonomy, we are filing a case at the CJEU today. We will argue that the gas Taxonomy, and the Commission’s refusal to review it, clash with the European Climate Law, the precautionary principle, and the Taxonomy Regulation — the law on which the Taxonomy is built. It also undermines the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement. We expect a judgment within the next two years.

Fossil gas at the heart of two European crises

Europe faces two interlocking crises: an inflation crisis and a climate crisis. Fossil gas is at the heart of both. Had we decided to invest with more determination in renewables and energy efficiency even just 10 years ago, our continent would not have been so dependent on energy imports. We would not have faced such great spikes in energy and food prices, which disproportionately hurt our poorest citizens. We would be closer to meeting our Paris Agreement goals.

Instead,  largely due to decades of industry pressure — the gas lobby spends up to €78 million a year in Brussels alone — our continent has remained extremely dependent on destructive fossil fuels. That dependency must end. It is high time to direct billions of euros into installing more renewables more quickly, with a focus on secure, cheap wind and solar power. It is time to expand the technologies to back them up, such as building insulation, energy storage, and strong grids. And above all, it is time to stop the lie that putting money into any fossil fuel will help the green transition. That is the purpose of our legal case.

Policymakers and financial institutions beware

EU policymakers are increasingly inserting references to the EU Taxonomy into other policies. If our case is successful, and the Taxonomy’s gas criteria are overturned, any legislation tying gas financing to the Taxonomy would become inapplicable.

Policymakers beware: the Taxonomy is on shaky ground, and you should not use it to justify new gas investments. Fossil fuel companies that get hooked on green funding will face a rude awakening if our legal case cuts that support off. They may even incur steep losses if they have made investments based on EU policies only to find that gas has been struck out of them.

Fossil fuel companies that get hooked on green funding will face a rude awakening if our legal case cuts that support off.

Financial institutions also face real reputational, financial and legal risks from the gas Taxonomy. Fossil gas is excluded from the global green bond market. Leading institutions such as the European Investment Bank or the Dutch pension federation have openly criticized the Taxonomy’s greenwashing. What is more, taxonomies in several other countries exclude fossil gas-fired power, so the European one lags behind. Any financial institution that uses the EU Taxonomy to justify investing in fossil gas assets therefore risks direct, robust and repeated attacks on its reputation.

The inexorable public policy shift towards energy efficiency and renewables, and the plummeting price of wind and solar power, have made fossil gas-fired power uncompetitive. Investments in more fossil gas, even if encouraged by the EU Taxonomy, would quickly result in stranded assets and could even cause billion-euro losses. Financial institutions must guard against these risks by stopping their support for gas expansion now.

Finally, if our case is successful, financial institutions could find they have purchased or sold products mislabeled as ‘green’. They must be careful to verify the legal consequences of such an event, particularly for its impact on any climate claims they have made.

Our message to the EU

Policymakers and financial institutions should note that the Taxonomy faces four further court cases: one from the governments of Austria and Luxembourg, one from Greenpeace, one from the Trinational Association for Nuclear Protection (ATPN) and another from MEP René Repasi. The EU’s greenwashing is now being discredited from all sides – amongst scientists, in financial markets, and soon, we expect, by the judiciary.

Our message to the EU is simple: do not help fossil lobbyists to block our continent’s move to clean, cheap and secure energy. If you do, we will meet you head-on.

Victor Hugo once said that nobody can stop an idea whose time has come. Today, despite much fossil fuel lobbying, denial and delay, it is the turn of the green transition. Our message to the EU is simple: do not help fossil lobbyists to block our continent’s move to clean, cheap and secure energy. If you do, we will meet you head-on.

See you in court.

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‘The Chechen & the Cop’: Immigrant and policeman fight racism together

Young Achmed Mitaev is fed up with Austrian police being racist towards immigrants.

The 23-year-old wants to prove that the Chechen community he belongs to — often victims of some of the worst prejudices in Europe — can also play a constructive role in their societies.

His TikTok account, dubbed ‘The Chechen and the Cop’, encourages people to ask the police even the most bizarre questions — such as “What would happen if I tried to smuggle my cousin into Europe?” or “What should I do when I see a police handgun on the street?”

From cruelty in Chechnya to abuse in Austria

Mitaev and his family fled their native Chechnya more than a decade ago on a perilous journey lasting months, first ending up in Poland and then in Austria. 

Chechnya is a Russian republic that was forced to remain under Moscow’s control after the Soviet Union collapsed and a vicious war. It is subject to some of the harshest human rights abuses.

People can be abrasive towards the Chechen community since they associate them with figures like Ramzan Kadyrov, the notorious leader of Chechnya and a loyal ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

In turn, Chechen soldiers have been deployed directly to the frontline in Ukraine by the Kremlin, though a small number are fighting on the other side too. 

“My mum, my dad and my siblings were on the road for three months fleeing from Russia, where the police is extremely cruel and unfair. So I definitely didn’t expect the police treatment I received in Austria,” he told Euronews.

He lives in Vienna’s 20th district, an eclectic multicultural neighbourhood located along the Danube Canal. 

Home to a high number of immigrant communities, police often patrol the area and stop people they deem suspicious — a practice long criticised as problematic throughout Europe and the US.

At 14, Mitaev became one of the youngest inmates in Austria after being arrested for resisting what he says was the third stop-and-search that day.

“The police are allowed to stop and check you over at any given point and without providing any reason for it. The Chechen community, in particular, gets stopped a lot,” he recalled. 

“I kept being stopped on my way to work or school, and once I was stopped by the same policeman three different times and I reacted to that.” 

Years later, the police invited him and some other people from the community to brainstorm ways in which law enforcement could be more approachable. They suggested the youngsters play football with the police or organise chess tournaments, which frustrated Mitaev.

“At one point I got sick of the conversation and told them, ‘you guys are here because of us and you have no idea what we want,’” he said.

Uwe Schaffer, the 59-year-old policeman who later became the protagonist of Mitaev’s TikTok videos, exchanged phone numbers with the young man and asked to meet up separately to discuss other options.

This is how the idea for the channel was born.

“The other policemen told Uwe that he was crazy, making videos with these Chechens. They told him they’re all criminals anyway. He didn’t listen to them and said he was committed to doing it no matter what.”

‘Police should not shy away from women with headscarves’

The format is relatively straightforward. Mitaev meets up with Schaffer somewhere in Vienna, like in a mall or in a public space. The young Chechen reads him a question from a user, and the police officer responds — often with brutal honesty.

For example, one of the questions involved the ban on face coverings in Vienna. While respect for religious communities is enshrined in the Austrian constitution, there is a ban on full-face coverings. Certain Muslim religious head coverings — such as the niqab — are therefore banned, explains Schaffer.

“But what about when someone covers up their mouth because they’re wearing a face mask? Like, for COVID?” Mitaev asks. Schaffer replies the police have a hard time distinguishing between the two, and that he would advise people to not wear headscarves instead of masks.

Austria is home to some voracious right-wing and hard-right parties, who base a large part of their rhetoric on spreading fear of immigrants — especially Muslims — among the majority Austrian population.

For Mitaev, the goal of his project is to tear down the walls between the police and those who fear them the most.

“For example, women who wear a headscarf or who do not speak perfect German don’t feel free to just ask the police about something, so they send me questions on my TikTok.”

‘Immigrants should be eternally grateful, and not commit crimes’

Kenan Dogan Güngör is the founder of “Think Difference”, an organisation focused on overcoming integration issues and consulting on questions of diversity. 

He says that while certain crimes “do indeed occur more frequently in certain migrant groups,” the lack of tolerance towards these groups also “triggers a higher level of outrage”.

Public outrage, he told Euronews, is “sparked not just by the crime, but also the person who committed it … the errors, grievances towards and even the criminality of unwanted and devalued groups and minorities are often perceived more strongly,” as a means of “confirming their reservations and prejudices”.

Majority communities in many European countries “expect humility and gratitude from migrants, refugees and perceived outsiders. Offences committed by these groups are seen as a particular violation of this expectation, and accordingly, the indignation is higher, more dramatised and instrumentalised by politics and the media.”

Mitaev says one of the basic problems these communities face is not understanding the rights they are entitled to. 

“My main aim is to make sure people know their rights in the country they live in. People need to know what can happen to them in certain situations.”

He jokes that some of his friends first accused him of being a police informant, before becoming fans of his videos.

“It should also tell people not to hate law enforcement officers in uniform, and that you should not distance yourself from them completely.”

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