• Austria adopts tough new asylum laws amid far-right surge

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    VIENNA: The Austrian parliament on Wednesday adopted one of Europe’s toughest asylum laws, as the country’s political leaders struggle to halt the surging far-right which is leading in presidential polls. The hotly-disputed bill, which passed by 98 votes to 67, allows the government to declare a “state of emergency” if migrant numbers suddenly rise and reject most asylum seekers directly at the border, including those from war-torn countries like Syria. Opposition parties and rights groups have slammed the legislation, with the UN’s refugee agency warning that it “removes a centerpiece of refugee protection.” But Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka insisted Austria had no other choice as long as “so many other European Union members fail to do their part” to stop the influx.

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