Dhaka, Bangladesh
Islam in Austria

Islam in Austria

(From yesterday's issue) Political Discourse and Intercultural Dialogue Media debates on Islamic slaugh-tering, mosques, and headscarves reflect the political and intercultural dialogue. On the right-wing of the political spectrum, the FPÖ and the populist politician Jörg Haider tried repeatedly to introduce a number of anti-Muslim comments, often couched as attempts to protect traditional Christian society, such as: "The increasing fundamentalism of radical Islam which is penetrating [Europe], is threatening the consensus of values which is in danger of getting lost." 44) Liberal and left-wing parties as well as Muslim organizations tried to enhance better understanding and to fight discrimination against Muslims, confronting a negative image in the political discourse, by organizing a number of intercultural dialogues. Recently the president initiated a inter-religious dialogue in the Vienna Hofburg where representatives of Jews, Muslims and the Christian confessions met. Another important event was the City-Experts-Talk ("StadtexpertInnengespräch") in the Vienna city hall that was initiated by the Greens. 45) On this occasion, the director of the Vienna public transport organization assured Muslim women to wear a headscarf together with their uniform and the appropriate hat when working in public transport in Vienna. On April 24, 2005, 160 living directors of public prayer, among them also about 25 women, met in Vienna. As Locating Islam in Austria a detailed statement passed, in which is said among other things: 1) the participants of the conference emphasize their sticking to constitutional principles in the Republic of Austria, enclosed in it and particularly stressed the equality of all citizens before the law, pluralism, democratic parliaments and rule of law. 2) The acknowledgment status of Islam in Austria and the practical advantage associated with it: the right to free and public worship, the internal autonomy of the Islamic Religious Body, the religious education in schools, and the consideration of religion e.g. in the federal army. Austria's contribution to the dialogue of religions also goes beyond national borders. In June 2003 in Graz a meeting of the "Directors of Islamic Centers and Imams in Europe" took place. The development of an authentic Islam in Europe, which is but independent of the Arab world, was topic of the three-day-long conference. At the end the "Declaration of Graz" was adopted. Therein is said among other things: "The Islamic message is built on moderation. From this the clear refusal results to any form of fanaticism, extremism, fatalism. Muslims must tell of their loyalty toward constitution and law also in its secular structure." Finally, Muslim communities started organizing "Open Mosque Days". On 8 April 2000, an Open day was launched at the Islam Centre (Islamisches Zentrum) in Vienna and attracted more than 1000 visitors. Meanwhile, smaller communities have started organizing similar events.

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