Below is a recent debate-interview between Heinz Christian Strache, the leader of the FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria), and Carla Amina Baghajati of the Islamic Religious Society. The two discuss Islam, sharia, minarets, and new mosques in Austria.
Like the PVV in the Netherlands and Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the FPÖ says what others think but dare not speak, and is demonized for it.
The interview was posted in the online version of Kurier on December 30, 2009, after appearing originally on print on December 2, 2009. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Kurier: Mr. Party Chief, after the Swiss “No” to minarets, you spoke of “effect by example”. What does that mean? Strache: For one thing, the great Swiss treasure is direct democracy. In contrast to Austria, the population is directly involved in important political decisions. For another thing, the referendum was not about religious freedom. The Swiss simply confirmed that you can have religious freedom without minaret and muezzin. Baghajati: Wrong! Of course it is about religious freedom. A minaret is not a symbol of domination. Like a church steeple, it is an expression of the dignity of a house of worship. Having the audacity to reinterpret it, I consider to be a rude intrusion in our internal affairs. Strache: It has been documented and openly addressed by the Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] that the minaret is a symbol of Islamic victory and domination. Erdoğan has explained that mosques are intended to be barracks and minarets to be symbolic bayonets. Baghajati: Please, let us not mix things up. They work with images of enemies and shortsightedness. They count on fear and stoke it with pseudo-arguments. Strache: That is not so! People in Austria live in religious freedom. In Turkey, there is a ban on building new churches. Kurier: Are you aiming for a ban on minarets in Austria too? Strache: We have a building ordinance in Vorarlberg and Carinthia that de facto disallows the building of minarets. This is a guide to how it can be assured at a federal level that the population cannot be steamrollered in the future. Baghajati: How often Muslims have been reproached: you hide because you have something to conceal. A visible mosque is an invitation. A minaret says: Come! We have nothing to hide. Strache: And yet, some hold sharia and the Koran above Western values. When we speak of religious freedom, that also means the individual is protected against religious fanaticism.
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Baghajati: You are trying to create a contradiction between Islamic theology and Western values. In Islamic religious instruction, it is important that the discourse is encouraged to reflect: Where does religion stand? Where does tradition stand in contrast to religion? Forced marriage, genital mutilation and honor killing are un-Islamic. We have the best arguments, based on Islam, to attack these things. I am concerned that the opposite is happening because of the policies of the FPÖ. Kurier: Is it not possible to discuss some unfortunate developments in Islam and still allow minarets? Strache: The faith is not the problem. The political misuse of it is. Baghajati: Whom are you accusing of that in Austria? Strache: We have seen parallel societies arise in Austria, in which Islam is radicalized. Muslims in Austria must give a sign of integration and say that they can do without minarets. Baghajati: The generalized suspicion nourished by the FPÖ against Muslims is problematic. Anyone who preaches hate in an Austrian mosque is removed from the pulpit by the community. Strache: I would be interested to know: Does sharia stand above the Austrian constitution? Yes or No? Baghajati: Wait a minute! Is it wise to ask whether your mother or your father is more important? Bible or constitution? Strache: The Ten Commandments are enshrined in the constitution. Thou shalt not kill. Baghajati: Thank you! I can underline that. You will find the Ten Commandments in the Koran too. What we share in values is strong enough to support a society for the good of all. I am so comfortable in Austria because we have found a wonderful balance between state and religion. There is no either/or. One cannot leave his religion at the door like his hat. Strache: In Europe, we are essentially Christian. Just as I condemn Christian proselytizing in the eastern world in ancient times, I also condemn the reverse process. Baghajati: Do you mean to say that we Muslims are pursuing conversion like the colonialists (did) in the past? Strache: Immigrants have ways of thinking that are surprising. And, of course, Islam is not native to Vienna. We don’t want to find ourselves becoming a minority in our own land. That, too, is a signal that is being sent to all of Europe from the Swiss vote. Baghajati: What is going on here — this pitting ourselves against each other — is a sign of an identity crisis in Europe. What do we stand for? What are our values? It is always easy to say: We are not like these Muslims.
I wish that someone from the Counterjihad could have consulted with Mr. Strache ahead of his interview and helped him plan his talking points. He made a few missteps here and there, which is understandable, given the professionally-trained opponent that he faced. Muslim spokespersons in the media are always slick and well-prepared when dealing with the infidel.
Did you notice how Baghajati dodged the question about whether sharia or the Austrian constitution was paramount? Mr. Strache missed a chance there to press his point home. Muslims in the West are very vulnerable on this issue, but you have to back them into a corner — a faithful Muslim can never publicly acknowledge that anything holds precedence over sharia law.
All in all, though, Heinz Christian Strache acquitted himself well. Having Switzerland as a next-door neighbor is waking Austrians up to what can and should be done.