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Vienna assault: The Muslim heroes who saved lives

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On Monday night, 23-year-old Osama Joda and his colleague left Schwedenplatz, a central Vienna sq., and headed in direction of McDonald’s, the place they labored.

It was unusually heat within the Austrian capital on the eve of a second lockdown, and it was busy.

Individuals met in bars and eating places earlier than the brand new social distancing measures got here into impact.

Instantly, Joda heard gunshots.

“The terrorist was 20 metres away from me,” Joda informed Al Jazeera on a video name, visibly upset.

When two policemen got here to his help, the murderer opened hearth on them and struck an officer.

Joda, who’s of Palestinian background, and his colleague ducked behind a tree, then behind a concrete bench.

“We pulled the injured officer apart. I instantly regarded for the wound and tried to cease the bleeding with my hand. That didn’t assist. So, I took off my jumper and tried to cease the bleeding with that as an alternative. After quarter-hour the ambulance got here.

“The murderer was nonetheless close by. I went to the ambulance, however they had been all in shock, they couldn’t transfer. I went again to the policeman. I used to be in shock myself and don’t keep in mind who was standing subsequent to me. However unexpectedly two younger males got here and helped to carry the wounded to security.”

The 2 younger males had been Mikail Özen, 25, and Recep Gültekin, 21, two Viennese blended martial arts (MMA) fighters with Turkish household background.

After serving to an aged woman, they noticed the wounded policeman.

A cell phone video recorded from a balcony reveals the pair working behind a subway entrance as pictures continued to be fired.

“I’d do the identical factor once more at this time,” Özen informed Al Jazeera by telephone on Tuesday, having simply returned from a gathering with the mayor of Vienna, who thanked the 2 males for his or her braveness.

4 individuals had been killed and a number of other wounded within the assault, which was carried out by 20-year-old twin Austrian Macedonian nationwide Kujtim Fejzulai.

He had been convicted and despatched to jail in April final yr for trying to journey to Syria to hitch the ISIL (ISIS) group however was launched early, in December.

Ladies run away from the primary district close to the state opera, central Vienna on November 2, 2020, following the taking pictures [File: Joe Klamar/AFP]

Özen initially didn’t need to touch upon his heroic deed.

However after the balcony video went viral, he and Gültekin had been accused by some on social media of involvement within the assault.

On the night of the assault, there was repeated discuss of a number of crime scenes and a number of other attackers, for which there’s nonetheless no proof.

“Instantly, social media reported that Turkish terrorists had been additionally concerned,” mentioned Özen.

To set the file straight, he and Gültekin posted a video assertion on their Instagram accounts, with the caption: “Saved a lady and a policeman.”

“We Muslims of Turkish origin condemn any sort of terror. We dwell in Austria; we’re Austrian residents. We aren’t fascinated about another politics outdoors the nation. We’ve got accomplished what was crucial. We’re happy that we had been in a position to save the police officer and that he’s nonetheless alive,” mentioned Özen.

However simply two days after the assault, they’re once more being criticised.

After Turkey praised them, screenshots of outdated pictures and statements from their Fb and Instagram accounts are being shared, suggesting that the 2 are near the ultranationalist Turkish organisation Gray Wolves.

These allegations are false, mentioned Muhammed Yüksek, who’s aiding the pair with media requests.

“They’ve by no means been ‘gray wolves’ or energetic in any political organisation,” mentioned Yüksek.

Whereas one picture from 2016 reveals one among them doing the so-called wolf greeting with their hand, Yüksek mentioned that of their MMA membership, they struggle within the “wolf staff”, and that’s the reason they made the sign.

“They remorse their postings prior to now. However it could be unacceptable to drop these younger individuals who had been so courageous.”

Instantly after the assault, the Islamic Non secular Neighborhood in Austria (IGGÖ), which is liable for the administration of the non secular affairs of Muslims dwelling in Austria, had expressed its solidarity with the victims.

“The offender didn’t come from our speedy non secular neighborhood,” mentioned IGGÖ president Ümit Vural.

Valerie Mussa fears Muslims will probably be collectively punished after the Vienna assault [Courtesy of Islamic Religious Community in Austria]

“We had been shocked and surprised once we heard about it,” mentioned spokeswoman Valerie Mussa.

She fears the neighborhood will probably be collectively punished.

“We’ve got already had the primary reviews of offensive graffitis on mosques and facades this morning. We’ve got already had the primary reviews of racist assaults, insults within the streets, particularly in opposition to visibly Muslim girls, carrying headscarves. And we have now already acquired the primary hate mails right here,” Mussa informed Al Jazeera by telephone.

“In our neighborhood, we have now younger individuals who had been born right here, however they don’t really feel as part of the society. These younger individuals want prospects and training. And so they must be introduced into the center of society. When they’re in the midst of society, society can’t be divided.”

Joda, the younger McDonald’s supervisor, mentioned he has beforehand been the sufferer of Islamophobia.

After years of dwelling in Vienna, his Palestinian household wished to purchase a home within the municipality of Weikendorf. However their plan didn’t work out.

The municipality had “no curiosity” within the household shifting in, the mayor introduced. Muslims wouldn’t match into Weikendorf.

The case went to the best courtroom. In the long run, the Jodas gained.

At this time, he hopes individuals will probably be extra open-minded.

After giving his testimony on the police station, officers gave him a “police” patch to thank him.

“I’ll hold this patch for the remainder of my life,” he mentioned.

From left: Osama Joda, Recep Gultekin and Mikail Özen [Courtesy: Osama Joda]

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