Austrian Chancellor Kurz: EU Must Fight Back Against Political Islam

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addresses a press conference at the Chancellery in Vien
JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images

Following the terrorist attack that left four dead in Vienna, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has vowed to fight “political Islam” and demanded the European Union focus on the issue.

Chancellor Kurz said that much of his country was shocked in the aftermath of Monday’s terrorist attack, saying: “Many people in our country believe that Austria is an island of the blessed. Most Austrians only know of terror and violence from the news of distant countries, but not from our own country.”

The Austrian leader, who spoke to German newspaper Die Welt, went on add that he saw both Islamic terrorism and the ideology of political Islam as a problem for Europe.

“Now, it is important that we resolutely continue the fight. Not only against Islamist terrorism but also against the ideological basis behind it — that is, against political Islam and radical Islamism,” he said.

The Austrian Chancellor said that the European Union must also address Islamism: “The EU must focus much more on the problem of political Islam in the future. I expect an end of misunderstood tolerance and finally an awareness in all the countries of Europe about how dangerous the ideology of political Islam is to our freedom and to the European way of life.”

“The European Union must lead the fight against Islamist terrorism, but especially against the political base behind it — that is to say, political Islam, with all determination and unity,” he added, noting that he was in contact with French president Emmanuel Macron.

Macron recently vowed to crack down on radical Islamic groups after the murder of teacher Samuel Paty who was killed and beheaded in the street by a Chechen refugee after showing cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed published by magazine Charlie Hebdo to his class during a lesson on free speech.

Chancellor Kurz has been an outspoken critic of Islamic radicalism for years and took steps in 2018, while in colation with the populist Freedom Party, to expel radical imams and close mosques linked to the spread of extremist ideologies.

On Tuesday, the identity of the man behind the attack was confirmed as Islamic State sympathiser Kujtim Fejzulai, who had previously served time in prison for terrorism offences after trying to join Islamic State in Syria. He was released early after convincing the parole board that he had been deradicalised.

On Wednesday, Slovakian authorities claimed that they had warned Austrian authorities that Fejzulai, an ethnic Albanian of dual Austrian and North Macedonian citizenship, had attempted to purchase ammunition over the summer without a valid firearms licence.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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