Alma Zadić is Austria’s first-ever minister with a migrant background. Immediately after being appointed last month, the state Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism has decided to give Bosnia-born lawyer the 24-hours police protection. The reasons were constant verbal threats from the right-wing extremists and the risk of a planned attack on the youngest-ever justice minister in Austrian history. Far-right populists have targeted the 36-year-old member of the Green Party mostly due to her foreign origin and political commitment.
Not only in her resident country but the native country too, the question is, how come the ethnic and religious identities are more important than someone’s references for performing the duty. Also, the case reopened the question of how individuals may confront the characters imposed on them by the public if those identities are not the ones the individuals feel like their own. Asked by the New York Times about her migrant background, she said a bit ironically: “A migrant foreground. It is the first thing about me that people see.”
“I have always been committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their social or national origin, regardless of their religion or gender, has the same opportunities in life. It is about equality of opportunity for every child, regardless of whether their parents are poor or rich or where they come from”, reads her Facebook addressing titled “Für ein gerechtes Miteinander”.
As a ten-year-old, she arrived in Vienna because of the war in Yugoslavia. She was studying at the University of Vienna and Columbia University in New York, having a PhD in human rights law. After working at several international organisation, she worked as a lawyer at a global law firm in the field of conflict resolution. She went into politics in 2017. Today, she doesn’t seem comfortable being seen as a refugee even she lives in Austria for 26 years.
Yet, instead of welcoming someone with a spotless professional record, some people rather discuss if she is Austrian or Bosnian and if she is Bosniak (Muslim) or not. “Alma Zadić disappointed the Bosniaks saying she is not Muslim, but atheist” the local newspaper headline reads.
“It is completely irrelevant what the identity you claim to be. It is important how others see you. In times of crisis, you will discover that”, one of the readers commented.
“A few days ago you glorified her. Now when she said she is an atheist, suddenly she is not good anymore. Being religious is the most important criteria in Bosnia for evaluating human beings?”, another asked.
Both Austria and Bosnia are supposed to be the secular states, and it shouldn’t matter at all what religion one has if any, Fair Planet reports.