26/2/15

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Austria is changing law on Islam, is setting a time bomb

İlnur Çevik
Austria was hailed by Muslims as the leading country in Europe that understands and respects Islam and thus should be an example for others. However, current developments show that shortsighted Austrian politicians are prepared to change all that and set a time bomb in the heart of Europe.
Austria officially recognized Islam in 1912 and thus has been living in peace and harmony with Islam for more than a century. However, growing anti-Islamic sentiments and the transformation of xenophobia into Islamophobia has prompted some Austrian politicians in responsible places to follow the trends in Europe and turn against Muslims and Islam.
Austria is currently passing a law on Islam that is simply a blow not only to the Muslim community living in Austria, but also a serious threat to Islam in Europe, which will eliminate those Muslims who are calling for moderation and promote extremist Muslim clergymen.
For the past 40 years the Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey (DİB) has been successfully educating Turks living in Austria on Islam, it sends moderate imams and preachers to lead prayers at the 200 mosques in the country and is helping Muslims to stay on the path of peace and compassion and encourages them to live in harmony with the people of other religions, cultures, colors and languages.What Austrian politicians are doing is setting the clock back a hundred years and destroying what has been built in a century. This is not only a great shame, but is also a prescription to encourage religious extremism, clandestine activities and destroy the culture of coexistence in Austria. This is to destroy everything that other European countries have not done and are thus suffering from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) crisis as their young Muslims raised by extremist imams are leaving these countries to join the religious radicals in Syria and Iraq. Then they go back to their European countries and sow the seeds of ISIS there, hence the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo
.
The new Austrian law is directed at Islam and thus is fundamentally a discriminatory law. The law orders the moderate DİB's imams out of the country, bans any financial assistance to be received from Turkey for Muslims to learn Islam properly by moderate instructors and bans Turkish Islamic publications for Muslims from Turkey. In short, it amounts to banning DİB from Austria. What enmity, what shortsightedness?
The law also treats the Turkish Islamic Union of Austria as an extremist organization even though this organization helps DİB promote unity among Muslims as well as the supreme values of Islam like peace, moderation and compassion.
If people cannot learn their religion through legal and safe means they will then opt to learn it in a clandestine manner, which will throw them into the hands of religious extremists.
Austrian politicians and people in responsible places seem to miss the fact that the Catholic Church does exactly the same and may be more of what DİB is doing in Austria. The Vatican rightfully intervenes on issues regarding Catholics in Austria, it has a major say in how the Catholic Church is run and provides assistance whenever necessary. The fact that this new law targets Muslims directly and, that such measures are not even discussed concerning members of other religions, shows that the architects of this law do not mean well.
The Austrian government has said it wants Islam with an Austrian character. This is impossible. Islam has a universal character and attempts to create one's own brand of Islam will not work.
What is sad is that many European countries, and especially Germany, which houses a large Turkish Muslim minority is watching the Austrian example closely to introduce similar laws. The fuse that has been set off in Austria could well blow up in all of Europe. That is the last thing we need.

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