A Muslim Candidate for the Christian Democrats

7 October 2010
“My dialect gives me away,” says Sara Rahman smiling, “I’m from Upper Austria.” Rahman, a practicing Muslim who wears a hijab, is 29th on the electoral list for the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), a Christian democratic political party. For Rahman there is no contradiction between being Muslim and being part of a Christian political party: the ÖVP is a value-oriented party, and she sees many similarities with her own way of thinking.
Nevertheless, she is against a ban on the burqa, a position supported by the leader of the ÖVP, Christine Marek. Rahman believes that each woman should have the right to choose for herself, though personally she does not understand why someone would choose to wear a burqa. She finds the current debate on integration to be superfluous, while she understands that right-wing voters have legitimate fears, and initiatives need to be taken to dispel those fears. Though Rahman has no chance of joining the local council due to her position on the list, she says she finds the idea exciting, were the opportunity to present itself.

Election Campaign with a Veil

3 October 2010
Both the Social Democratic Part of Austria (SPÖ) as well as the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), the two largest political parties of the country, have included conservative headscarf-wearing women on their electoral lists for the upcoming Viennese elections.
In both cases the women are so far down on the list that they are sure not become part of the new Viennese council; however, in the case of the SPÖ candidate Gülsüm Namaldi, her conservative religious views and support for Turkish-language education has attracted criticism. Meanwhile the leader of the Viennese ÖVP, Christine Marek, called for the “acceptance of the veil as a normal situation” in an interview with the migrant magazine “Biber,” in which she poses with ÖVP’s headscarf-wearing candidate, Sara Rahman.

Kurz: “Local Imams for Local Muslims”

14 September 2010
Following his earlier statements calling for exclusively German-speaking imams in Austria, the leader of the youth division of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Sebastian Kurz, is now saying that only individuals with an Austrian background be allowed to preach in Austrian mosques.

Kurz criticized that too many imams are trained in Turkey, and are under the authority of the Turkish prime minister. The socialist politician and integration spokesperson for the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ), Omar Al-Rawi, responded by calling Kurz “ill-informed,” and by pointing out there as long as there was no Islamic theological institution in Austria, those wishing to become imams would have to go abroad to pursue their studies.