“Positive Examples For Young Muslims”
Two months ago a law was passed in Austria requiring imams to speak German and banning foreign funding to Muslim organizations. The reason behind this German speaking ability is so that imams can serve as “positive examples for young Muslims”.
Muting Foreign Influence
Austria’s parliament in late February this year adopted legislation amending law on Muslim organizations. The new law forbids foreign sources of financing to local Muslim organizations. It also requires imams to be able to speak German.
Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz described the objective of this new law, which is to bring about an “Islam of European character”. This is achieved by muting the influence of foreign Muslim nations and organizations via the ban on foreign funding, and at the same time, offering Austrian Muslims a mix of increased rights and obligations in practising Islam in Austria.
Elaborating further, Sebastian Kurtz said: “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 also said that this new law is designed to “clearly combat” the growing influence of radical Islam. Recent press reports estimated that around 2,000 Austria citizens have gone to Syria and Iraq to join jihadist militias in the so-called Islamic State.
No Foreign Funding Allowed
To combat radical indoctrination from abroad, the new law forbids Islamic cultural organizations and imams in Austria from receiving funding from overseas. At the same time, the law also require nearly 450 Muslim organizations in Austria to demonstrate a “positive approach towards society and the state”, failing which they risk being de-registered.
Sebastian Kurz said: “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”.
Rights Of Muslims
The new law also gives a mix of additional rights to Muslims in Austria, including:
- the right to consult Islamic clerics on the staffs of hospitals, retirement homes, prisons and in the armed forces
- the right to halal meals in those institutions as well as in public schools
- the right to skip work on Islamic holidays
Think About It
Can this new law stop Austria citizens from going to join jihadist militants in the so-called Islamic State? What is there to stop the jihadists from conducting their recruiting activities in German? Also, is this new law somewhat discriminatory in that other religious organizations and their clerics are not bound by it? On the other hand, can this new law be the start of a concerted effort to defeat the jihadists’ recruitment exercise?