Project "Liberal Tolerance? On the Political Dealings with Freedom of Opinion, Press and Religion in the Context of the Shock of Religiously Motivated Violence"

Runtime: 02/2016-12/2016
Funding: Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich
Management: Sieglinde Rosenberger
Assistance: Katharina Götsch, Astrid Mattes
Research platform RaT, Research group INEX, Department of Political Science

The two terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 – on the one hand on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Casher supermarket and on the other hand on the concert hall Bataclan, the Stade de France as well as multiple cafés, restaurants and bars – have put Europe in a state of shock. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. In the political public reactions of politicians, intellectuals and religious communities many appealed to “European values” such as freedom and tolerance in particular – as emotionally charged and empty words but also as concepts that have been filled, negotiated and interpreted content-wise.

The project team has examined public statements and media reports on both attacks in a comparative case study and has analyzed the formulated research questions in the national context of Austria:

How are European values – especially tolerance – discussed publicly in the aftermath of religiously motivated violent occurrences?
Are there semantical fillings of the concepts “European values” and “tolerance”? And in what different ways do they occur in those two cases?
How can the differences among the sociopolitical reactions to those two incidences be better understood?

On September 12th, 2016, the project assistant Katharina Götsch presented the first preliminary results of the investigation at the 4th Annual Conference of the Research on Migration and Integration in Austria, which was hosted by the ÖAW (Austrian Academy of Sciences).
Furthermore, a policy letter for the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Europapolitik (ÖGfE) ( was composed that was directed at political decision-makers, the media and the interested public and was published in the middle of November 2016 (around the anniversary of the devastating terror attacks that took place in Paris on November 13th, 2015). In it several recommended actions were formulated under the title “European Values against Radicalization and Violence? Political Reactions on Religiously Motivated Terrorist Attacks”.

At last, a paper headed “Religion, Violence and Concept(s) of Tolerance. Political Reactions on Terrorist Attacks“ was submitted for a peer-review procedure at the open access journal Politics, Religion & Ideology. The article is currently being assessed.