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Austria: Islamophobic signs placed close to mosques days after govt launches digital Islam map

18th Jun 2021
Austria: Islamophobic signs placed close to mosques days after govt launches digital                Islam map

Street signs reading ‘Attention: Political Islam is nearby, see Islam Map for further info’ in German were erected close to mosques in the Austrian capital Vienna. (Credit: Anadolu Agency)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Austria’s Muslim leaders have voiced their anger at the erection of several Islamophobic street signs near mosques in Vienna.
Various Austrian media outlets reported street signs with images depicting a scowling man with beard and skullcap alongside a notice reading ‘ATTENTION: Political Islam is nearby see Islam Map for further info’ which might have been erected by Identitarian, a racist pan-European nationalist far-right group.

In a statement released on June 2, the Islamic Religious Authority in Austria (IGGiO) said signs endanger the mosques to attacks; the incident comes only days after the country’s Muslims called for the Integration Ministry to shut down its National Map of Islam website with the names and locations of more than 620 mosques, associations and officials.

Ümit Vural, IGGO President, said, “Attacks against Muslims rose after this incident. Ugly signs were hung on our mosques. We had said that this website must be taken offline as soon as possible – that it could be dangerous. I’m sorry, but all our concerns have proven true.”

On June 1 Austria’s Integration Minister, Susanne Raab, defended the ‘Islam map’ amid mounting criticism within the country’s Muslim community.
“This is by no means a general suspicion of Muslims. It’s about the common struggle against political Islam as a breeding ground for extremism,” Raab told the German WELT newspaper.

However, IGGiO, which represents 800,000 Muslims, warned against stigmatising Austria’s Muslims “as a potential danger to society and the democratic legal order in the country.”

Leading Muslim group Muslim Youth Austria (MYA) announced it plans to file a lawsuit against the Government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz for unveiling a controversial Islam map.

MYA lambasted insisting, “The publication of all names, functions and addresses of Muslim institutions and institutions that have been read as Muslim represents an unprecedented crossing of boundaries.”

The German Central Council of Muslims also slammed the Austrian Government for launching a controversial digital Islam map, calling it “irresponsible”.

“With battle cries like ‘Political Islam’ and such actions, anti-Muslim racists and religious extremists will be strengthened at the same time, while millions of Muslims are put under general suspicion,” said Aiman Mazyek, head of the council.

Meanwhile, Germany’s co-ruling Christian Democratic Union party of Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed support for the disputed initiative of the Austrian Government.
“We don’t need any artificial outrage about the Austrian map of political Islam. We need a serious debate on how to deal with Islamist extremism in Germany,” said Thomas Strobl, Interior Minister of the southern Baden-Wurttemberg state.

 

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