Now Ms. Wiesinger has paid the price for being a whistle-blower: she has been forced to resign her position in the teachers’ union.
Teachers’ Representative Steps Down After Speaking About Islam
March 23, 2018
“Sharia has a higher priority for many of my pupils,” teacher representative Susanne Wiesinger criticized publicly. Much to the displeasure of the [teachers’] union — now she steps back.
A teacher in Vienna has come under attack, after she warned of the increasing influence of Islam in schools: “We have a class of 25, where you’d need to integrate 21 children into our society — not just with respect to language, but also culturally. This is not humanly possible,” lamented Susanne Wiesinger in an interview with the research platform “Addendum”: “What are we supposed to integrate them into? We [teachers] are the only members of the Austrian majority society that they know”.
Susanne Wiesinger has been teaching for 25 years in the district of Favoriten in Vienna, the last ten years at a new middle school. In the past, says the 53-year-old, it was possible to get through to her pupils with topics, but these days, the Muslim pupils especially are barely interested. Their [religious] belief is almost everything they are interested in. “Sharia certainly has a higher priority for many of my students,” said the pedagogue. “The most important thing for them is to be a good Muslim and a good Muslima.”
“Not healthy for a society”
This is manifested in the classroom, too: Making music and dancing together are rejected for religious reasons. More and more often, questions of belief are reason for conflicts among the kids. She witnessed similar developments with the parents. Often they aren’t interested in education, but solely in the Islamic faith. “It is what makes them worth more, in their eyes. What makes them stand out from us.”
“There is a development in a direction that isn’t healthy for any society,” said Wiesinger criticizing the growing influence of Islam in Vienna schools. It is the first time that a personal representative of the social democratic teachers’ union has spoken so frankly about integration problems in the classroom — the breach of a taboo, one might say. The social democratic union does not like opinions like that: “They always warn us not to speak to the press,” says the 53-year-old. It became even worse since the new ÖVP-FPÖ coalition. “The Black (ÖVP) have a monopoly on the topic,” opines Wiesinger: They put the interests of party politics before the interests of the schools and the students.
After criticism: Wiesinger steps down from her position in the union
After Wiesinger made her experiences public, she was subjected to sharp criticism — especially from her own ranks. “I can’t stand it anymore, being the hostage of party politics,” said the 53-year-old. In a video message that was published this Friday by “Addendum” on Facebook, she announced that she is leaving the teachers’ union.
“The truly important issues — integration, German, problem schools, classes — we do not deal with that at all,” notes Wiesinger her concerning work in the union. Instead, there were endless debates, for example, over which paper to use to print a school message on. “I felt like I was in the wrong film. The discussion over which paper to print the grades on went on for hours. This can’t be for real. I would have loved to print it on toilet paper, because it doesn’t matter at all. This is about more important things.”
But speaking about the influence of Islam in the schools of Vienna is not in the party line, the teacher feels. Even now that she won’t be a representative anymore, she does not want to close her eyes to the problems, and will keep on criticizing them.