A Brand New Islam Law for Austria

One of the last acts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before it disintegrated in the aftermath of the Great War was to pass the “Islam Law” of 1912, which codified the religious rights of Muslims. The law was deemed necessary because of the participation of Muslim soldiers in the imperial army after the annexation of Bosnia in 1908.

Modern Austria has inherited the Islam Law, but Islam-critics have long contended that the state has failed to enforce the crucial provision that Islamic practices must not violate the laws of Austria. After years of contention, a revision of the Islam Law is in the works, and — not surprisingly — has stirred new controversy, since Austria’s increasingly powerful Islamic community has had a say in the detailed provisions of the revised law.

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff has commissioned translations of an introduction to the public controversy about the law, followed by an article about these unfolding events.

For readers who are interested in the text of the original law, see the Islam Law of 1912 in German, French, and English.

Many thanks to JLH for translating this comprehensive introduction by Christian Zeitz:

The completely unrestrained expansion of Islamic influence has long been a thorn in the flesh of Islam critics in Austria. More and more aspects of everyday life are subsumed by the ritual demands of believing Muslims and — frequently in a bizarre fashion — make a beneficial exchange between native Austrians and Muslim immigrants impossible. The left and like-minded political elite are working diligently on a glorification of alleged Islamic cultural achievements, in order to legitimize their claim of “enrichment” of a multicultural society with foreign influences. Economic and political ties between Austria and influential Islamic countries — especially Turkey and the Arab oil-producing countries — are being unremittingly intensified, and this increases their influence on Islamic institutions in Austria. The out-of-control proliferation of so-called Islamic “cultural organizations,” i.e., the multiplicity of oriental convenience stores and video stores run by “backyard mosques” provides a comfortable insulation for the creeping propagation of sharia. And in Austria, all that may no longer be criticized and opposed — even with qualifications — because Islam is a “legally recognized religious community” under the protection of the criminal religious “hate speech paragraphs” in the law and the anti-discrimination legislation.

In 1912 Islam was recognized as a legally equal religious community through a special law called the “Islam Law.” The step was considered necessary, because of urging by Bosnian soldiers belonging to the imperial-and-royal army of the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary at that time. Of course, the Islam Law provides the qualification in §6/2 that protection of Islam applies only insofar as its beliefs, rituals and practice do not contradict the laws and customs of Austria. In 1988, by means of an ordinance considered by experts to be illegal, the legal basis was created for the IGGiÖ (Islamic Religious Community in Austria), which gives Islam exclusive claim to representation. The IGGiÖ has established itself as a powerful and politically influential lobby, which pursues Islamic interests in all areas, exploits naïve representatives of the political establishment and ensures a centrally coordinated religious instruction in public schools. Its advocates belong to a radical — albeit set up as “dialogue” — type of Sunni Islam, and see themselves as a toehold for Turkish and Wahhabi positions.

For more than100 years, politically responsible individuals in the Austrian republic have not succeeded in implementing the provisions of the Islam law or enforcing its spirit. For that reason, critics have long demanded a reformulation of the law, restricting the leeway of interpretation, emphasizing the interests of Austria, preventing an extra-legal status for Islam and creeping sharia — as it is or should be in a nation of laws for all churches and faith groups.

Unfortunately, the IGGiÖ has realized that the implementation of such a legal project would mean the end of its time of doing as it pleases in Austria. So — in complete secrecy, behind the backs of the public, enlisting the responsible foreign minister, Sebastian Kurz and several policymakers — it has taken the opportunity to finagle an outline of a new Islam Law that would even enhance its position, increase the influence of Islam on both culture and society, and could mobilize public money for Islamic projects like special cemeteries and ministry to soldiers.

So for several weeks now, critics and juridical experts have been trying too prevent an unnoticed rubber-stamping of this proposal in the Austrian national Assembly. They are letting those in power know that such a legal construction would clearly discriminate against the other religious communities in comparison to Islam and its radical representation, and would diminish surveillance of extremist groups and projects. It should be the intent of a constructive Islam Law to preserve the interests of Austrians and establish religious peace in the land. The following central elements must be considered:

  • Publication of the fundamentals of the Islamic faith and obligatory restriction of carrying out the tenets of the faith to the published content. That includes filing a certified translation of the Koran and those Hadiths deemed relevant.
  • Restriction of financing of the Islamic religious community and/or yet to be founded or recognized Islamic communities to domestic finance sources.
  • Restriction of possible membership in the Islamic religious community to natural persons, to preclude lobbying for cultic and religious practices through the membership of shadowy organizations of doubtful background.

Austria will soon have to decide whether it wants to establish in orderly fashion the primacy of the secular state versus the aspirations for an Islamic divine state, or intends to allow a further embedding of radical variants of Islam.

Mag. Christian Zeitz
Academic Director
Institute for Applied Political Economics

Below is a article from EurActiv.de (also translated by JLH) with a different perspective on the revision of the Islam Law of 1912:

Austria: Adaptation of Islam Law Coming
Herbert Vytiska, Vienna
March 24, 2014

A revision of the so-called Islam Law — stemming from the year 1912 — is being readied. As early as this year, therefore, a legislative act could be put in place, which could serve as a model for other EU states.

The Cultural Office, located in the office of the Chancellor, is responsible for the preparation of the Islam Law. Pro-active in this is Sebastian Kurz, who is responsible not only as Minister of Foreign Affairs but also as Minister for Integration. It is clear to him that the time has come for “a new law.” It should, above all, take precedence in federal law. Beyond criminal law, a new Islam Law offers an opportunity to explicitly regularize certain points. “For instance, that religious instruction may not contradict civic education” and that “one may bury relatives in accordance with their faith.” Another important point concerns minimum standards for pastoral care in hospitals, in the army and in training of imams.

A Unique but 102-Year-Old Body of Laws

As far as official recognition of Islam as a religious community is concerned, Austria has a kind of prototype function for Europe. As early as 1878, when Austria-Hungary was empowered to administer Bosnia and Herzegovina, Emperor Franz Joseph I proclaimed “that all sons of this land enjoy the same right under the law, that they will all be protected in their lives, faith and worldly goods.”

Immediately after the annexation of Bosnia in 1908, the process of granting Islam legal recognition began. The ministries involved created a body of laws unique in Europe at that time. In it, Muslims are granted autonomy and self-determination, “but governmental supervision is maintained.” It was confirmed that the religious community and its religious functionaries in accordance with Hanafite ritual enjoy “the same legal protection as other recognized religious communities.” That also applies to the teaching of Islam, its institutions and customs, “to the extent that they do not contradict government law.”

The Battle over the Cross in the Classroom

There is no doubt that the Islam Law stemming from1912 — ergo instituted during the Danube Monarchy — has become superannuated. At that time, there were 900 citizens of the Muslim faith. One hundred years later, according to information from the Islamic community in Austria — an officially recognized body — more than 500,000 profess Islam (while 5.36 of the 8.5 million Austrians are Catholic). They are highly concentrated in the capital city, Vienna, where Bosnians may outnumber Turks.

The dimension achieved by discussions concerning religious groups is seen here in Vienna. Presently, a survey is being made in the compulsory schools to determine the actual percentage representation of different faiths. The impetus for this was a dispute when parents protested the ordinance that a cross must be hung in a school when the majority of children are Christian.

No Contradiction to Civic Education

The intention of the Islam Law is to take the wind out of the sails of especially the right-populist FPÖ, which once fueled a smear campaign against Turks, Bosnians, etc., with the slogan “Daham statt Islam.” (Homeland not Islam). With the emplacement of a “priority of implementation for national law,” the ruling parties hope to clarify the situation. Then, no one could be put outside the country’s laws for invoking Islam. Religious instruction would not have to come to a halt and training of imams would be raised to the university level. Finally, two sensitive questions remain to be discussed. First, which Islamic sects will be recognized in law. Second, whether a religious community will be financed inside Austria or (extensively) supported by funds from abroad.

8 thoughts on “A Brand New Islam Law for Austria

  1. “Austria will soon have to decide whether it wants to establish in orderly fashion the primacy of the secular state versus the aspirations for an Islamic divine state, or intends to allow a further embedding of radical variants of Islam.”

    Austria won’t be deciding anything, that is if Austria is referring to the Austrian people. Austria didn’t decide about what even caused any problems or talk of this, immigration, only the few top elites who wanted more tax revenue(which may or may not even be happening), cheaper labour, to force Austrians to help the foreign needy even if they didn’t want to, and of course there’s the self-hating people who want exotic food, culture in their country, again, whether or not the majority of people would agree. If there was a referendum about immigration when it started in the 60s/70s/80s depending on which country, there’s no way any European country would have mass third world immigration currently, for example in Britain, polls showed the majority of people agreed with Enoch Powell in the 70s.

    It still isn’t too late, while the voting would be much closer today since so many people have been brainwashed, especially the young, I’m still confident most people, if given a referendum would either severely restrict immigration or scrap it all together, especially from outside Europe or eastern Europe, and especially if fair debate is given on the issue.

    I’m disappointed I haven’t seen many counter-Jihad, pro-liberty, or nationalist people or parties try to campaign for a referendum about immigration(except the Swiss, they had one and it won, although it was only about a quota on immigration and that quota was still pretty large). What propaganda can the liberal elite use against a referendum? If they’re against a referendum, they’re against democracy, and that won’t go well with people. I don’t think any of these parties will gain a majority either, getting a referendum or series of referendums would be an easier task. Plus, remember the Austrian FPO actually did gain power in 1999(albiet in a coalition with another party), and they were practically kicked out of power by the EU. The EU even put sanctions on Austria..

    Unless some counter-Jihad, pro-liberty or nationalist people have already accepted immigration, conceded our right to decide.. If I’m honest, that would be an absolute tragedy. If you want to try to instead change the people who immigrate here, like the Islamists, or think certain laws will protect our native culture, I have to disagree and say it would be absolutely futile. Good luck.. especially when we’re the minority in our own countries.

  2. “For more than100 years, politically responsible individuals in the Austrian republic have not succeeded in implementing the provisions of the Islam law or enforcing its spirit. ”

    One wonders what modifications to this curious law the Austrian dictator Adolf Hitler enacted during the relatively brief interregnum of Nazi rule (1933-1945); particularly in light of startling indications here and there of a profound admiration for, and knowledge of, Islam by him. Unfortunately, it seems that the Islam dimension of Nazi history lies buried in apparently still undigested reams and folios of turgidly bureaucratic documents in untranslated German. Unless someone can direct me to a good academic study that sheds light on this dimension using primary sources…

    • Hesperado – tellthechildrenthetruth.com is a good start to the links between the Nazis and Islam. Gives a basic outline and then provides plenty of links to follow up.

  3. Suspect the Koran has been on the top shelf of many of Europe’s political elite and islamo wannabes for centuries.

  4. Hesperado–As a reasonable substitute, I suggest Turban and Swastika,which I had a hand in preparing, with Vlad and Henrik. I cannot find a complete video, but here is a site where you can piece it together by choosing parts 1 through 6. This is a series of clips from German newsreels interspersed with comments by contemporary witnesses.


    • Thanks jlh, I’ll look forward to watching this. I still regret that so much material from Nazi history remains inert and warehoused and as far as I know there are no indications that any scholars are going to address this problem.

      It would be an excellent dissertation proposal for a young grad student: the role of Islam in the development and implementation of Nazism. (For example, one could explore the possibility that the Blitzkrieg tactic was modeled after the Islamic razzia.)

  5. It is amazing how western politicians are mesmerized by Islam. Their life and work is dedicated to creating ways to promote, encourage, raise, upgrade Islam to a master’s level. We also know what will happen when politicians say “islam law will not violate Austria’s Law. They will write that on paper for local consumption, but in practice they will help Imams to break and violate every Austrian Law, and who has [the manly generative equipment] to point out that aspect. Once a vice starts in a democracy no one can talk about it or stop it. Democracy’s goal is to voluntarily enslave oneself to Islam.
    If one muslim student is present in a classroom the whole Austrian politicians will stand with him and his community to remove the cross from the wall.
    If 2 muslims exist in a classroom and 28 are Christian no politicians will show up his face and support the majority because that’s not fashionable. And why should they defend those traditional Jews and Christians when they can defend a freshly arrived religion. Do you wear a coat that was in style 50 years ago. They know, or they think they know what Christianity is : Something only mentally deranged will even mention it. They either mention Christianity in a dark light or they can mention plague before they mention it. How many politicians have ever said they respect Catholicism if they are protestants. Or Vice versa. How many have said with full mouth “that they respect Islam and Islam is here to stay” ? All of them even those unborn yet.

    * * *
    “First, which Islamic sects will be recognized in law. Second, whether a religious community will be financed inside Austria or (extensively) supported by funds from abroad.”
    * * *
    There is no need for “funds from abroad” Austria will consider that shameful. And if Austria spend money from its own pockets and at the expense of Christianity the Jizya will be submitted with a yellow smile and a humble bow and nod as mentioned in the Koran. While the Muslim receiver will look at the dhimmi with a stern look of utter contempt and whispering curse almost heard but the dhimmi. The dhimmi will leave satisfied because he completed his duty.
    Didn’t Jane Austen say: Man is servile.
    In 1848 there were a revolution in most European countries for freedom. In 1948 onward in all European, Australia and New Zealand and America, there are diligent efforts to enslave themselves voluntarily to the religion of permanent offense. Ironies of life are stranger that stories of One Thousand Arabian Nights And One.

  6. Several attempts to legalize Islamic FGM (the so called mild sunna) in Germany. Now even in Austria?

    Österreichisches Islamgesetz. Beim Thema Beschneidung bitte die Mädchen nicht vergessen

    Karl-Peter Ringel / Kathrin Meyer (§ 226a StGB – Sonderstraftatbestand der Frauenbeschneidung & verfassungswidrige Ungleichbehandlung) und Tatjana Hörnle wollen die “milde Sunna” (FGM Typ Ia und IV) erlauben.

    Insofern sollten auch die Österreicher der Initiative Religion ist Privatsache vorausschauend absichern, dass die mit: “Kinder und Jugendliche durch alle traditionellen Bräuche zu führen” potentiell betroffenen Mädchen vor der Beschneidung sprich Genitalverstümmelungs-Variante “milde Sunna” (ḫitān al-ināṯ, sunat perempuan, FGM nach Koran und Sunna) geschützt sind.

    [Machine translation:

    Islam Austrian law. On the subject of circumcision do not forget the girls

    Karl-Peter Marigold / Kathrin Meyer (§ 226a StGB – special crime of FGM & unconstitutional unequal treatment) and Tatjana Hornle want to allow “mild Sunna” (FGM Type Ia and IV).

    Respect, the Austrian initiative should religion is secure private matter foresight that with: “Children and young people through all traditional customs to lead” potentially affected girls before circumcision say Genital Mutilation variant “mild Sunna” (Hitan al-inat, sunat Perempuan FGM are protected by the Qur’an and Sunnah).]

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