Austria Bans Foreign Funding for Mosques, Forces Imams to Speak German

Christian Hartmann/Reuters
Christian Hartmann/Reuters

Austria has passed a significant change in the law which is designed to ferment a distinctly ‘European Islam’ and prevent undue influence from foreign groups and nations by restricting funding and forcing preachers to speak in German.

The move, which has been dismissed as “discrimination” by Austrian Muslim organisations comes as a new poll in the country shows a majority of Austrians “fear” the radicalisation of Muslims and felt natural Austrians and Muslims “coexisting” was “not so good”.

Although the new law significantly pre-dates the recent terrorist murders in Paris and Copenhagen, they will put Austria in the vanguard of European nations taking concrete steps to tackle extreme Islam and encourage proper integration.

The new law, which replaces legislation dating back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, will balance rights and responsibilities for Austrian Muslims, reports Although all Islamic organisations and Imams will be banned from receiving money from abroad to prevent further foreign cultural indoctrination, they will be given the right to eat Halal food and see Islamic clerics for spiritual needs while at school, or hospital, in prison, or while serving in the armed forces.

All Muslim organisations will be required to show a “positive approach towards society and the state” or face being outlawed, and Imams will be required to set a “positive example” to young Muslims by speaking only in German. In return, Muslims will receive the right to take Islamic holidays as days off work.

Despite the new developments, some believe the laws do not go far enough. The original draft of the law also included a provision for an official Austrian Koran in German, a suggestion that became so controversial it was later dropped. Austria’s Freedom Party has called the law a “placebo”, which does not do enough to tackle radicalisation, and it appears many Austrians might agree.

A remarkable 75 percent of Austrians believed the government had realised too late that immigrant Muslims presented a threat to the country, and even larger majorities thought increased police and surveillance of mosques was called for.


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