Swiss Help against Mosques

Following a heated debate in April in the municipal council between the mayor Siegfried Nagl and right-wing parties over the construction of a mosque for Turkish Muslims, the issue has quieted down. However in anticipation of provincial elections coming up in September, the far-right Austria Freedom Party (FPÖ) has decided to play on the issue to gain more votes. In preparation they have recruited Alexander Segert, the German-born marketing mastermind of the recent Swiss “Anti-minaret campaign.”

Swiss Help against Mosques

Following a heated debate in April in the municipal council between the mayor Siegfried Nagl and right-wing parties over the construction of a mosque for Turkish Muslims, the issue has quieted down. However in anticipation of provincial elections coming up in September, the far-right Austria Freedom Party (FPÖ) has decided to play on the issue to gain more votes. In preparation they have recruited Alexander Segert, the German-born marketing mastermind of the recent Swiss “Anti-minaret campaign.”

(Covering both Graz and the above story on the Citizen’s Initiative – Rappgasse)

Austrian right-wing politician found guilty of insulting Muslims

Vienna – A youth leader of the Austrian right-wing Freedom Party was found guilty Monday of inciting religious hatred against Muslims, and received a suspended prison sentence. As the leader of the Freedom Party’s youth organization in Graz, Michael Winter, 20, had suggested in a newsletter last year that that Turkish Muslims were in the habit of committing bestiality. The defendant’s mother Susanne Winter is also set to stand trial this autumn for stating earlier this year that Islam’s prophet Mohammed was a paedophile. She is slated to take a seat in the Austrian parliament after her Freedom Party won 18 per cent of the votes in last week’s elections. The Vienna criminal court sentenced Michael Winter to three months in prison, suspended on probation. The maximum punishment for public incitement or insults against members of specific religions, ethnic groups or countries is two years. The verdict is not yet legally binding: When Susanne Winter was asked in a magazine interview last November if she denounced her son’s statements, she answered that she could provide proof of her son’s allegations against Muslims.

Religion Study: ‘There Is Absolutely No Reason for Islamophobia’

Germany’s Muslims are pious and yet more tolerant than most assume, a new study has found. Its authors are urging authorities to draw the country’s Muslim children away from Koran schools by offering public religious instruction. Dr. Martin Rieger of the Bertelman Stiftung thinks Muslim children should have their own religion classes. Rieger was the director of the study “Muslim Religiosity in Germany,” which was provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE ahead of its scheduled publication on Friday. The study reveals that 90 percent of Muslims define themselves as religous. In contrast a separate survey by the nonprofit German think tank found that only 70 percent of the entire population admitted to being religous. “We need to get the younger Muslims out of the Koran schools,” Rieger urges, “and offer them professionally taught classes on Islam.” Calls like that are welcome news to Yunus Ulusoy from the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, which keeps track of the religiosity of Turkish Muslims. It’s a demand, Ulusoy says, “that we’ve been making for decades because, for Muslims, faith is a very important part of their identity.” In his opinion, if the school system doesn’t pay any attention to this fact, it only hurts the chances of successfully integrating Muslims into German culture. Even Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, the body responsible for the country’s Catholic Churches, backs the plan. On Thursday, Zollitsch voiced his support for the call for Islamic religious instruction and the construction of “fitting Muslim houses of worship that are well-integrated into their respective urban plans.” Peter Wensierski and Christina Hebel report.

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RELIGION STUDY: ‘There Is Absolutely No Reason for Islamophobia’

Germany’s Muslims are pious and yet more tolerant than most assume, a new study has found. Its authors are urging authorities to draw the country’s Muslim children away from Koran schools by offering public religious instruction. Dr. Martin Rieger of the Bertelman Stiftung thinks Muslim children should have their own religion classes. Rieger was the director of the study “Muslim Religiosity in Germany,” which was provided to SPIEGEL ONLINE ahead of its scheduled publication on Friday. The study reveals that 90 percent of Muslims define themselves as religous. In contrast a separate survey by the nonprofit German think tank found that only 70 percent of the entire population admitted to being religous. “We need to get the younger Muslims out of the Koran schools,” Rieger urges, “and offer them professionally taught classes on Islam.” Calls like that are welcome news to Yunus Ulusoy from the Center for Turkish Studies in Essen, which keeps track of the religiosity of Turkish Muslims. It’s a demand, Ulusoy says, “that we’ve been making for decades because, for Muslims, faith is a very important part of their identity.” In his opinion, if the school system doesn’t pay any attention to this fact, it only hurts the chances of successfully integrating Muslims into German culture. Even Robert Zollitsch, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, the body responsible for the country’s Catholic Churches, backs the plan. On Thursday, Zollitsch voiced his support for the call for Islamic religious instruction and the construction of “fitting Muslim houses of worship that are well-integrated into their respective urban plans.” Peter Wensierski and Christina Hebel report.