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Mathias Rohe criticizes Austrian Islam Law

Quelle: Kurier.at © Bild: /Roland Schlager

In an article by Deutsche Welle, Mathias Rohe, Islamic scholar, lawyer and director of the EZIRE, explains that he sees a possible violation of the Human Rights Convention in the implementation of Austria’s Islamic Law.

As a step against “political Islam”, the Austrian Government closes seven mosques and examines the expulsion of 60 of approximately 260 imams in Austria. The mosques to be closed belong to the “Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria” (ATIB), which is suspected of promoting Turkish nationalism. Also affected is a mosque of the far-right “Gray Wolves” in Vienna, which had recently made a splash by the published staged acts of war with children. The main charge is foreign financing, which also the mosque association DITIB, a german organization comparable to the ATIB, is repeatedly criticized for.

For Mathias Rohe the Austrian development is critical. Since 2015, Austria has a slightly exaggerated legislation with the basic political direction of a great Islam skepticism, possibly also contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Rohe does not believe in a similar approach in Germany, since the Austrian development can not be compared with the German legal situation. German law is based on the personal attitude of the individual, wich can engage in religious activities and join communities. Only for state recognition there would be specific requirements. Communities would have to be “public corporations”, which is difficult but possible. Here Rohe refers to “Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaad”, which was the first Muslim community to be recognized as a corporation. Also in Germany mosques could be closed if they violated penal laws or worked against the constitutional order, resulting from the German association law. But according to Rohe´s impression, Austria is much more generous in the prohibition options, while it would definitely not be possible to stop foreign financing in Germany. Regarding this matter, Germany for good reason has no legal requirements – churches in Germany also support “parallel organizations abroad”, for example the Roman Catholic Church is “not a purely national event”.

The foundation of the current Austrian procedure is the Islamic Law of Austria, which was created in 1912 in its original version. Even back then the Austrians, according to Rohe, had a relatively homogeneous Muslim community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All recognized churches and religious societies should be equated in the Danube monarchy. The new version of this law, which came into force in 2015 under Minister of Interior Affairs Kurz, provides for an “Austrian-style” Islam and is intended to prevent the radicalization of young people. Among other things, it states that mosque associations can not be financed from abroad. It is about the clear message that there is not a contradiction to be a devout Muslim and a proud Austrian at the same time, but that state law takes precedence over religious law, according to Kurz.