Viennese ÖVP boss Karl Mahrer has once again found himself at the center of a heated debate, this time due to a video shoot where he called the police. The incident occurred on Mariahilfer Strasse, a bustling street in Vienna. Green district councilor Silvio Heinze took to Twitter to express his concerns after witnessing Mahrer filming himself calling the police on a Viennese man who was peacefully sleeping on a bench. Heinze criticized Mahrer for failing to inquire about the man’s well-being or consider calling an ambulance. Upon speaking to the man, Heinze discovered that he was simply taking a brief nap and was perfectly safe.
Responding to the criticism, Mahrer took to Twitter to provide his perspective on the incident. He explained that he was on Mariahilfer Strasse after receiving multiple reports about the worsening situation in the area. Mahrer noticed the sleeping man and approached him, ensuring that he was breathing and not in immediate danger. Satisfied that there was no immediate threat to the man’s life, Mahrer contacted the police, referring to them as the professionals. He argued that the situation on Mariahilfer Strasse, with people sprawling across park benches and littered with bottles, and individuals heavily intoxicated camping in driveways during the evening, had become completely unacceptable.
However, this is not the first time Mahrer has designated certain areas in Vienna as “focal points” of concern. In a previous instance, he referred to Brunnenmarkt in Ottakring, suggesting that “Syrians, Afghans, Arabs have taken power” in the area. Mahrer’s remarks faced severe backlash from the SPÖ, Greens, and Neos parties, who criticized his divisive and inflammatory statements.
The incident on Mariahilfer Strasse has ignited a broader discussion about Mahrer’s approach to addressing social issues. Critics argue that instead of demonstrating empathy and understanding, he appears to immediately involve the police without attempting to engage with the individuals involved or explore alternative solutions. They see his actions as emblematic of a “law and order” approach that prioritizes enforcement rather than tackling the underlying causes of societal problems.
The controversy surrounding Mahrer’s video shoot sheds light on the ongoing debates and tensions surrounding issues such as homelessness, substance abuse, and public spaces in Vienna. It serves as a stark reminder of the necessity for comprehensive and compassionate strategies to address these complex challenges, rather than resorting to simplistic and potentially harmful measures. The response from various political parties reflects a divided opinion on Mahrer’s actions, with some condemning his statements and others lending support to his stance.
As the discourse continues, it remains to be seen how this incident will impact Mahrer’s standing and whether it will catalyze meaningful discussions and actions to address the pressing social issues facing Vienna.