Faith and Society News

“European Islam” Bill passed by Austrian Parliament

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The Austrian parliament has passed a Bill requiring a standardised German translation of the Qur’an, and banning both foreign imams and foreign funding for Islam in the  country.

The far-right party in Austria wanted the bill, which amends a 1912 Act recognising Islam in the country, to also require sermons to be spoken in German and to ban burqas and minarets.

telfs-mosque-austriaUnder the Bill, employment of preachers from abroad will be prohibited, Imams will be required to train at Austrian universities, and they will have to be able to speak German.

An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Muslims live in Austria, 6{286427c60984e496d8f2e542e7d21c54ddb5734529e6fb3e21d1c17283afa115} of the population. They are served by about 300 imams. 65 of whom are reported to be Turkish.

More legal security for Muslims is also offered in the Bill, including protection of religious holidays and training for imams.

Austria’s Integration Minister, Sebastian Kurz, was quoted as saying “What we want is to reduce the political influence and control from abroad and we want to give Islam the chance to develop freely within our society and in line with our common European values”, and “We want a future in which increasing numbers of imams have grown up in Austria speaking German, and can in that way serve as positive examples for young Muslims”.

He said the bill was not a reaction to the Charlie Hebdo or Danish killings, but was intended to promote “Islam of European character”.

Mehmet Gormez, head of religious affairs in Turkey, was quoted as saying: “Austria will go back 100 years in freedom with its Islam bill”.

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