Muslims in the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have begun to initiate working groups about the opinion of Muslims about German politics. The goal is to juxtapose the overwhelming prejudice in German public about Muslims being unable to participate in democratic societies. Also, Muslims in the SPD aim at improving the image of Muslims proving their compatibility with democracy. On February 14th 2014, SPD head Siegmar Gabriel and Minister of Integration Aydan Özoguz organized a session for the new initiated “working group for Muslim social democrats”. The working group is expected to be an important step towards the recognition of Muslims and their engagement in German society.
A further positive step was the designation of Yasmin Fahimi this January as the General Secretary of the SPD. Fahimi (46) is a German Chemist of Iranian descent.
Aydan Özoguz, MP and aspiring vice-chairwoman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has distanced herself from her radical Islamic brothers. Yavuz and Gürhan Özoguz run the anti-Israel and Pro-Iranian internet portal “Muslim-Markt” and were observed by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution for several years. Özoguz, who is hoping to the first chairwoman of the SPD with Turkish origins, wants to be seen and judged for who she is, independent of her brothers.
17 December 2010
Former Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin has become a millionaire many times over thanks to the proceeds of his inflammatory book attacking Muslim immigrants.
Sarrazin enraged politicians and the public this summer with the incendiary publication Deutschland schafft sich ab – Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany – How we’re putting our country at jeopardy.”
In the book, Sarrazin warns that Germans could become “strangers in their own country” because of integration, and argues that Muslims are not compatible with German society.
He may have been forced to resign from his post at the Bundesbank and fight expulsion from the centre-left Social Democratic Party, but Sarrazin said on ZDF’s talk show Stuckrad Late Night on Thursday that he’d made a pile of money from the book.
When host Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre estimated that the 1.2 million copies sold had earned his guest €3 million, Sarrazin indicated it was significantly more.
7 October 2010
In front of a crowd of 1500 supporters and 300 counter-demonstrators, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), Heinz-Christian Strache, ended his campaign for the Viennese elections with a rally in front of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Strache spent most of his time attacking the Social-Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) and its candidate, the incumbent mayor of Vienna Michael Häupl, whom he criticized for his proximity with Islam. The SPÖ has too many candidates with Islamic background on their lists, said Strache, while he went on to attack the headscarf, “racism” against “ethnic Austrians,” and the number of foreigners in the country.
23 September 2010
In this opinion piece, Farid Hafez compares the anti-Jewish strategies that were pursued at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th and the current Islamophobic strategies of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ).
Aside from advocating the direct control of the sermons being preached in synagogues, right-wing parties argued for greater control of the architecture of religious building and called for the assimilation of the “unintegratable” Jews – all themes very similar to the headlines concerning Muslims today.
The last few months have also given rise to a new development: the leader of the FPÖ, Heinz-Christian Strache, recently called the Social-Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) an “Islamist Party,” thereby echoing his predecessors who, one century ago, also warned of the “Jewishization” of the Social-Democratic Worker’s Party (SDAP).
Finally, the FPÖ has managed to revive old conspiracy fears, unveiling election placards that warn that the SPÖ is “for obligatory headscarves and thus is encouraging the oppression of women.” This all presented as operating alongside international Islamic terrorism, just as the “international Jewry” was presented as a threat one hundred years ago.
In a debate organized by dieStandard.at, both Gülhiri Aytaç, business scholar, and Tülay Tuncel, vocational school teacher, agreed that Western feminists are overly arrogant in their desire to “convert” women from other cultures. However, agreement between the two women was much more difficult to attain on the subject of religion.
While Tuncel, who is also integration speaker for the young organization of the Austrian Social-Democratic Party (SPÖ), called for solidarity among European feminists to fight attempts to legitimize Sharia law, Aytaç called this position exaggerated as religion can also be used positively to promote women’s rights. Moreover, Aytaç maintained that if women with Turkish origins statistically more often stay at home and do not work, this is not due to religious pressure, but rather to personal preference. Tuncel countered this position by saying that professional women are often not well regarded in such families, and that she has had a number of female students who wear a headscarf but who are not especially religious.
In the end, one of the main reasons for which a professional career for women with Turkish origins can be difficult is the lack of positive role models. Both women highlight the role of the media in perpetuating a negative image of Austrian Turkish women, often focusing solely on issues such as oppression or the headscarf.
In an interview, conducted by Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk, Mr. Sebastian Edathy shares his views on immigrant and particularly Muslim participation in German politics. Edathy is a German MP of Indian origins and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Asked about the withering support of Muslims for the Social Democratic Party, Edathy claims legislation changes in family reunification responsible, which requires family members to learn basic German before joining their partners in Germany. Regarding reasons for Islamophobia, Edathy thinks that much is owed to the linking of “Islamic” and “Islamist”, i.e. the equation of religion and fundamentalism.
Austrian President Heinz Fischer said he strongly believed Austria will always be home for multicultural, multi-faith and multi-ethnic co-existence and a model for tolerance, love and harmony among all citizens who follow Islam, Christianity and other faiths of the world. “Austria will however remain a European country leading openness and dialogue among representatives of the three major faiths Islam, Christianity and Judaism and other cultures and ethnicities based on common aspects”, remarked Fischer in a statement to WAM at a reception he held last night for the third year on the occasion of Eid el Fitr. He said that the message he wanted to get across to Austrians and members of the Muslim community on the occasion is that the new Austrian cabinet will soon be formed and that he hopes it will be a national unity cabinet representing all parties and trends. Austria, he added will always be prepared to continue dialogue and rapprochement among representatives of followers of faiths and cultures with a focus on commonalities and historical and close relationships and cooperation between Austria and Islamic world. Asked about his evaluation of the recent Parliamentary elections last Sunday and the resulting sweeping victory of the two anti-immigrant far right parties, the Freedom party led by Heinz-Christian Strache and the Movement for Austria’s Future led by Jorg Haider, Fischer said the headway made by those parties is only limited because the Social Democratic Party of Austria is still ranking first followed by the Austrian People’s party.