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Austrian parliament to pass Islam bill despite opposition 25 février 2015

Posted by Acturca in Immigration, Religion, Turkey / Turquie.
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Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) Wednesday, February 25, 2015


A majority of Austrian parliamentarians are expected to pass a divisive bill on Wednesday that aims to curb foreign influence on local Muslims.

If passed, the government-drafted bill would regulate the relationship between Islam and the state and reduce the influence of foreign imams by banning foreign funding and deployment of Muslim clergy, many of whom are currently paid by Turkey.

The proposal would also establish Austrian law as standing above Islamic religious rules, in line with the government’s plan to foster an « Austrian-style Islam, » as described by Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz late last year.

Muslim representatives said the law would be discriminatory, but the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) said it was not restrictive enough.

« I say that [Islam] does not belong to Austria, neither culturally nor historically, » FPOe leader Heinz-Christian Strache said during the parliamentary debate preceding the vote.

Strache said his party would oppose the bill because it does not oblige imams to hold sermons in German and does not ban burkas and minarets.

Strache argued the language rule was necessary so that police could monitor what he claimed was « dangerous Islamization and dangerous radicalization » in mosques.

The Turkish Islamic Union (ATIP), which runs many mosques, repeated its opposition to the bill.

« The attempt to create an ‘Austrian-style Islam’ ignores the need for fostering religious diversity and mutual respect, » the ATIP said in a statement.

« It turns the Islam law into a security law, » the union added.

ATIP and other Muslim groups plan to fight the law at the Austrian Constitutional Court, arguing that it is more restrictive than the laws governing other religions.

Around 600,000 Muslims live in Austria, composing approximately 7 per cent of its 8.6 million inhabitants.

A poll by broadcaster ORF showed Tuesday that 58 per cent of Austrians believe there has been an increase in the radicalization of Muslims, while 41 per cent fear terrorist attacks like those that took place in Paris in January and in Copenhagen this month.


Islam in Austria

Islam has a long tradition in Austria, dating back to 1878.

Austria-Hungary occupied Bosnia-Herzegovina that year, incorporating a significant Muslim population into the Habsburg empire for the first time.

Islam was formally recognized as a religion in Austria in 1912.

The number of Muslims has increased sharply in recent years, from 340,000 in 2001 to nearly 600,000 today.

Most of them have roots in Turkey and Bosnia.

There are some 200 mosques in Austria registered with the Austrian Islamic Community, an umbrella organization.

More than 55,000 pupils attend Islamic religious education classes atAustria’s public schools, where they are being taught by more than 400 Muslim teachers paid by the Austrian state.


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