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Right-wing anger over mosques call

Freedom Party (FPÖ) officials have hit out at Anas Schakfeh, president of the Austrian Islamic Denomination (IGGiÖ), for calling for a mosque in all nine provinces.

FPÖ General Secretary Harald Vilimsky today (Mon) suggested an "immigration stop" for people from "Islamic regions" in a first reaction to Schakfeh’s statements from the weekend.

Schakfeh said he wanted "visible" mosques featuring minarets built in all nine provincial capitals of Austria. "This is the hope for the future," the IGGiÖ head revealed.

He explained: "We can, of course, pray in mosques without minarets, too. But churches have a structure and an architecture. And a mosque has an architecture as well."

Shakfeh further pointed out: "Protestants were not allowed to build church towers around 150 years ago. Now no one is offended. That’s why I’m optimistic."

Vilimsky reacted by branding mosques as "hotbeds of radical Islam", while Social Democrat (SPÖ) Omar Al Rawi said the FPÖ official’s statements marked a "new low point" in the debate.

"This is a slap in the face of the around 500,000 Muslims living in Austria, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan," Al Rawi said, adding that he expected an apology from the right-wing party.

Al Rawi also said Ramadan was a good opportunity to break down prejudices.

Reacting to the common FPÖ slogan branding Imams "hate preachers", SPÖ Vienna General Secretary Christian Deutsch announced: "If there are any ‘preachers of hate’ in Austria, they reside at FPÖ party headquarters."

Deutsch added: "Such verbal outbursts harm the international reputation of Austria, the country’s image as a tourism destination and its domestic peace."

There are around 200 of mosques but just three with minarets – in Vienna, Bad Vöslau in Lower Austria and Telfs, Vorarlberg – in Austria. The provinces of Carinthia and Vorarlberg have recently introduced laws which ensure no more minarets can be erected.

The Vienna city election (10 October) campaign is meanwhile intensifying after the FPÖ presented a controversial poster series.

Political rivals criticised the party for its new slogan "Mehr Mut für unser 'Wiener Blut' - Zu viel Fremdes tut niemandem gut" (More Courage for our ‘Viennese Blood’ – Too much of the other doesn’t do any good for anyone.). "Wiener Blut" is a famous operetta by Viennese "King of Waltz" Johann Strauss.

Previous campaigns of the party headed by Heinz-Christian Strache featured slogans like "Daham statt Islam" (Homeland instead of Islam).

Analysts said the FPÖ would improve from the 14.8 per cent it won in 2005, while the SPÖ could lose its absolute majority of seats (2005: 49.1 per cent).

Discussion of Schakfeh’s statements and the FPÖ’s reaction to them comes just weeks after a poll by research agency IMAS revealed that 54 per cent of Austrians agreed with the statement that "Islam poses a threat to the West and our familiar lifestyle".

IMAS, who interviewed 1,088 Austrians older than 16 for its representative survey, announced that only 19 per cent disagreed.

The agency also found that 72 per cent of Austrians believed Muslims would "not stick to the rules" when it came to living in Austria. Only one in 10 of the interviewed Austrians said they disagreed with the claim that Muslims were "badly integrated" in the country.

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  • Karmenu of Malta wrote on 23. 08. 2010 from Europe about "Right-wing anger over mos..."

    Christianity is not the church buildings; and it definitely is not the absence of mosques or minarets. Live a good Christian life, in a sincere and determined way, no matter how much energy and sacrifice it entails, and you would not need to fear the presence of mosques or minarets. The secret is to seek and follow the true gospel teaching. It is more important to reserve five minutes per day to a consideration of whether one is sincere enough in one's search for the truth than to condemn the erection of places of non-Christian worship.

    Reply


Cosmo and Nanu
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