The updated Austrian “Law on Islam” bans foreign funding for mosques and imams limiting influence from abroad, it also requires imams to be able to speak German. It is controversial but is also being held up as a model for Europe in dealing with Islam.
“”What we want is to reduce the political influence and control from abroad and we want to give Islam the chance to develop freely within our society and in line with our common European values,” said Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.
Igniting fresh controversy, Austria’s parliament has approved significant changes to the country’s “Law on Islam” — a revamping of a 103-year-old law to expand certain legal protections while also placing new restrictions on Muslim organizations and how adherents practice their faith.
While the changes were proposed years ago — long before attacks in France and Denmark by homegrown terrorists with extremist views — the reforms passed Wednesday are intended to “clearly combat” the influence of radical Islam, according to Austria’s conservative foreign affairs minister Sebastian Kurz, Agence France-Presse reported.
Lawmakers made the changes to a 1912 law that codified Islam as an official religion in Austria. Now, Austria’s roughly 450 Muslim organizations face new limits on foreign funding, a move that has generated criticism from around the world, since other religious communities can still receive international support. Many of Austria’s roughly 500,000 Muslims hail from Turkey, which finances and sends imams to the European nation.
According to Austria’s foreign ministry, imams cannot receive continuous financing under the law.
The approved bill — referred to as the “Law on Islam” by the foreign ministry — also requires imams to be able to speak German, AFP reported. Muslim organizations are not required to use a standardized German translation of the Koran, but central tenets of the religion must be presented in German, a foreign ministry official told The Post.
Online: Washington Post-Austria is taking controversial steps to tighten a 100-year-old ‘Law on Islam’