Below is a report on the latest Islamic public relations campaign in Austria, as observed by our Austrian correspondent ESW.
Interesting things one notices nowadays while stuck in traffic:
These so-called rolling boards (translation: “he is admired who respects his family”) can be found all over the place now, especially near traffic lights, where the bored driver can receive Islamic inspiration. How very helpful in times of financial and other crises! Muhammad’s words are so very comforting….
Conveniently enough, those wanting to find out more about Islamic family values can go straight to the promoters’ website and will find that a group by the name of Islamische Föderation in Wien ( Islamic Federation in Vienna) is behind this social warmth campaign. They are certainly worth a closer look. According to the mission statement found on their website (my translation):
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In the final 60 years of the last century, workers were recruited in Turkey to come to Austria and other European countries for the European “economic miracle”. Millions of Muslims came to Europe from Turkey and other Muslim countries. Approximately 4.5 million Muslims came from Turkey, a number of whom also returned to their original home. Today in Austria there are about 480,000 Muslims, 230,000 of whom are Turkish, 3,000 with Austrian roots, and the rest are Muslims from many other origins.
Already in the early 1970s, Turkish workers who wanted to perform their prayers set up small prayer sites. In the 1980s, first regional, then national associations arose for these communities. To realize certain religious services and conditions it was necessary to have a central association. This movement towards concentration was the forerunner of the IFW, founded in 1987.
The religious, cultural, and social services of the IFW may be seen as the task of the IFW and its cooperating associations. These clubs provide the necessary infrastructure for daily worship such as prayer rooms and imams. At this level there are also women’s and youth departments, in addition to the offer of cooperating clubs to take advantage of all activities that are tailored to the needs of their respective target groups. These include religious functions, such as language courses.
The cooperating clubs are particularly useful for the coordination of religious and educational work, and for the holding of cultural events as well as for the cooperation and exchange of experience among them.
The full IFW association is responsible for the coordination of the work under the cooperating associations. It prepares a general work plan, the strategy of clubs, addresses fundamental issues and develops minimum standards for religious services, such as education and social work in local communities, for example, the organization of the annual hajj (pilgrimage) and various other campaigns. In addition, there is a solidarity fund for assistance for burials.
The IFW cooperates with mosque communities in four states (Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, and Salzburg), which consist of 36 clubs and 72 cooperating groups, of which 18 are located in Vienna.
Within a community of about 28,000 people ( “Friday community”), who regularly participate at various IFW events, the IFW counts 7,200 members.
At the beginning of their migration to Austria, the believers prayed under stairways, in rented garages, or similar unsuitable premises, often in workers’ dormitories. The next step was to pray in rented halls, workshops or discontinued business sites — at that time the so-called “backyard mosques” emerged.
The next step was that property had to be acquired to be used for mosques. Sometimes these mosques were even built to be architecturally attractive, in the traditional Islamic architecture. With the acquisition, the former “guest workers” manifested their intention to live permanently in Europe.
There is also a youth and women department, which caters to their (special) needs. It seems that Milli Görüs provides the main financial background for this federation.
What is particularly exasperating in this context is the complete absence of an outcry from other religious institutions. Or at least a similar campaign should have been launched to counter this onslaught of Islamic comfort. I admit that I did not realize there were prior campaigns. But I should have. It should have been picked up by the media, by the church, by anyone. But there was and is complete silence. Nothing. No reaction at all.
Together, we will today for the third time present our campaign “call for social solidarity”. We live in a country with a multi-cultural characteristics. As a part of this society we want to make our contribution — with the help of this campaign — in emphasizing community bridges, to strengthen them or even build new ones. Social interaction feelings of social awareness should also be strengthened.
This campaign was launched in 2006 under the slogan “A Call for Social Solidarity”. A quotation from the Prophet Muhammad served as the slogan: “He who is helpful to humans is the best human.” In 2007 we continued, also with a saying from the Prophet Muhammad, continued: “Don’t go to sleep with a full stomach while your neighbor starves.” Even in its third year, we are continuing this action, and in times of the current global financial crisis, our motto this year is even more effective.
This year’s slogan is “He is admired who respects his family”, which can be found on 163 rolling boards and 105 “city lights” [special form of advertising in Austria] in Vienna, St. Poelten, Linz, Graz and Salzburg. We should not forget that in these difficult times, which I hope will soon be behind us, the security in the family and pillar of the family are essential. The family as a basic social structure was, is and remains indispensable. And where can social warmth be found if not in the family.”
An Islamic family provides warmth? How so? By allowing a man to beat his wife? By denying a Muslim child any choice in his or her religion? By scaring children about hell-fire? By forcing them to become shahids because it is the only way to guarantee paradise? By making children attend madrassas, where they are forced to memorize the Koran when they should be enjoying their childhood? Is this the future of Austrian children?
Not as long as I am capable of resistance!