Long-term observation in Wien-Floridsdorf, Vienna

July 3, 2014

In 2005 a home for people seeking asylum was built in Wien-Floridsdorf, Vienna. Back then the residents were explicitly against it. Now a long-term observation in Wien-Floridsdorf shows, that after more than nine years none of the concerns and fears, which were at the first place responsible for the resistance, are playing an important role anymore. A team of reporters documented the events over nine years.

Islam in schools?

January 13, 2014

By Alessandra Coppola

 

The Austrian education system allows for teachers to teach Islamic religion in public schools. Another pilot-project is in Assia, Germany and was reported in the “New York Times.” The article in the Times called for similar programs across Europe – Islam in schools is already practiced and disseminated on a national scale and it is at the gates of Italy.

THE AUSTRIAN MODEL – Ayşegül Dinckan – Yilmaz, 31, of Turkish origin, is a member and head of IRPA (in English MTTC – Muslim Teachers Training College). The Institute gives a regular degree in Education, explains Ayşegül, but also gives accreditation by the Islamic Council of Austria, a body officially recognized by Vienna. To clarify: the teachers are paid by the Ministry of Education. Courses are taught in Islamic theology, pedagogy, teaching and law. “During the practicum our students begin to work with children of different ethnic origins. The teaching students have various backgrounds, many are from Turkey, but also from the Balkans and the Arab world.” 500 are already in the classroom, distributed to the classrooms of 50,000 Muslim students in the country: “more and more students enroll in these courses. The children are given the opportunity to learn their religion by specialists in German language and can use this knowledge to talk about Islam in German with their neighbors.” The program emphasizes interfaith dialogue: “We have several collaborations including exchanges of teachers, for example with the Institute of Training of the Christian churches in Vienna.”

THE SITUATION IN ITALY – is this imaginable in Italy? Is it a model that can be imported? Professor Paolo Branca, a scholar of Islam at the Catholic University of Milan, and among the most famous in Italy, explains that the school population is no longer homogeneous; there is a diversity of Muslims. “The reality is already moving in this direction alone.”

THE RISK of extremism. The thrust of the project in Frankfurt is also born from the fear of marginalization and subsequent radicalization of young Muslims. The case of a Turkish terrorist cell in Germany in 2007 raised an alarm on Salafi proselytism, the most recent reports of volunteers leaving Germany to join the jihad in Syria. There are no events far from Italy, and scholars warn that with the growth of Islam, Italy must not abandon the religion, marginalizing it and leaving it to extremist preachers.

THE HOUR OF ” RELIGION ” – The question then concerns the overall approach of the Italian Catholic community. As for the schools, since it is still being debated Branca suggested not to divide the students into religious traditions – the Christians on the one hand and the Muslim on the other, “it would be a step backwards” – instead Branca urges Italian officials to consider a course of study that holds together all Italians, of all faiths.

 

Corriere della Sera: http://www.corriere.it/scuola/14_gennaio_09/islam-scuola-austria-germania-lezioni-corano-classe-e19414a8-791e-11e3-a2d4-bf73e88c1718.shtml

Islam scholar in Münster under pressure

January 10, 2014

 

Prof.Dr. Mouhanad Khorchide, a scholar at the Centre for Islamic Theology (ZIT) at the University of Münster has been under recent public pressure. In an open statement, students of the centre raised their concerns about these issues, which would negatively effect the reputation and image of the ZIT.

Prof. Khorchide has been accused of plagiarism having used content and ideas of the Syrian Koran interpreter Muhammad Shahrour, inappropriately for his book “mercifulness”. The central council of Muslims in Germany spread the news as well as the daily news paper in Vienna “Standard”.

The central council of Muslims does not recognize Prof. Khorchide as a theologist. Yet, the accusations against Prof. Khorchide have not been verified. In his book, Khorchide is said to demand the modernization of Islam, which has been criticized by Muslim associations such as the coordination council of Muslims. In 2010, the coordination council permitted Khorchide to teach as a certified religious scholar. The same council is aiming to dispose Prof. Khorchide.

 

Die Zeit: http://www.zeit.de/studium/hochschule/2014-01/khorchide-muenster-islamische-theologie-kritik

Students’ statement (In German): http://fachschaftzit.blogspot.de/?m=0

Victims of Islam, the Pope Canonizes 800 Martyrs from Otranto

5/12/2013

 

Pope Francis: Many Christians still suffer violence today. Today we canonize the 800 who died in Otranto, killed by Muslims in 1480

Tens of thousands of people gathered starting in the early hours of the morning in St. Peter’s Square where the Pope canonized his first saints: the 800 Martyrs of Otranto and two Colombian and Mexican nuns. “Today” said the Pope “the Church canonizes a host of martyrs, who were called together in supreme witness to the Gospel in 1480.” On the facade of the basilica, as is tradition, the drapes were hung with effigies of the new saints. “About eight hundred people” the Pope said “stopped the invasion of the Ottomans and were beheaded near that town.”

Papa Francesco “inherits” the canonization of these saints which was proposed by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11 and officially announced on May 12. In addition to the 800 martyrs of Otranto, there were two nuns who founded religious orders: the Colombian Laura Montoya y Upegui and the Mexican María Guadalupe Garcia Zabala.
Today Francis Pope recalled the sacrifice of the martyrs of Otranto, “where did they find the strength to remain faithful? Just in faith, beyond the boundaries of earthly life, they contemplated the heavens and Christ at the right hand of the Father.” The 800 Martyrs of Otranto saved Italy and its Catholic identity allowing the country to remain Christian,” says Cardinal Amato explaining that this event helped to stop Muslim expansion in Europe, even before the battle of Lepanto (1571) and before the siege Vienna (1683).

Tauran: Interreligious dialogue: “we are not competing rather; we are pilgrims of the truth”

“Believers know that ‘man does not live by bread alone’, they are aware that they have to make a specific contribution in their daily lives and that they must do so together, not as competitors, but as pilgrims of the truth.” Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue explained, speaking last night in London at the third meeting of the bishops and delegates from the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe regarding relations with Muslims. The meeting was sponsored by the CCEE, which will end tomorrow.

Speaking at the opening session, the cardinal recalled the importance of continuing a dialogue between Christians and Muslims, he also supported the visit of Benedict XVI to Lebanon, with a meeting with Muslim religious leaders and the creation Inter-faith Centre in Vienna “which may be a new channel to denounce the violation of religious freedom and at the same time encourage and share positive experiences.”

The Archbishop of Bordeaux, Jean-Pierre Ricard, also in attendance, said “the international landscape was extensively modified as a result of the` Arab Spring ‘ in Egypt and Tunisia, the war in Libya and separatist movements in Syria have repercussions throughout the Middle East.”

Rai Film about Islam

March 19, 2013

A Capuchin monk from Friulana, Marco D’Aviano, who energized Christians troops before the Battle of Vienna in which Ottoman army of 300,000 warriors was stopped in their besiegement of Vienna on September 11, 1683. The film explains that this was the first September 11; 300 years ago. Produced by RAI the film will premier on  April 11 and will be distributed by Microcinema. The distribution of the film has already been postponed once due to the film’s political incorrectness according to RAI leadership.

The film, which cost over € 5 million, was filmed with great battle scenes in Romania and Italy. The director’s aim was not necessarily to show that there is evidence to support a comparison between September 11, 1683 and that of 2001. The director stresses that “is not a film against Islam but on the total senselessness of the wars of religion. It’s a movie that focuses on a figure from the depths of history that of a great Christian priest: Marco D’Aviano. Marco D’Aviano was canonized a few years ago by Pope John Paul II, who aware of the priests importance in the history of Europe. Yet, inexplicably, no one knows who is Marco D’Aviano.” The film also focuses on Kara Mustafa, a great Muslim leader (played by Enrico Lo Verso). Both characters are convinced that their God will bring them a superhuman feat: Kara Mustafa wants to destroy Vienna and come to Rome to transform the St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque. Marco D’Aviano wants to prevent this plan.

The German Interior Ministry’s Controversial Poster Campaign: Encouraging Prejudice and Paranoia

Sometimes good intentions are just not enough: a new campaign by the German interior ministry, says Robert Misik, only contributes to the widespread paranoia about “the Muslims” – and thus encourages the very radicalism it wants to fight

The German interior ministry is currently on the hunt for missing persons. In fact, quite a lot has gone missing from the country’s security services: files about a gang of neo-Nazi killers which got lost and shredded, for example. But that’s not what the ministry is looking for: the “missing” it’s looking for are called Ahmed, Hassan, Fatima and Tim. Their friends can’t seem to talk to them any more – they’ve become strange.

All four of them – the three immigrants and the young German – have in common that, in fact, they don’t exist. They’ve emerged from the fantasy of some PR-types who’ve thought up a nice public relations campaign for the ministry’s “Radicalisation Advice Centre”. What they also have in common – at least according to the brief texts on the “missing” posters – is that they have all drifted into Islamist fundamentalism; they’ve been caught in the fangs of some radical preacher and their character has suffered a deep change, so that their former friends don’t recognise them any more.

It’s not just Muslim organisations and immigrants’ associations which are up in arms about the new campaign; many people working in the integration field are also shaking their heads in disbelief: the campaign, they say, encourages prejudice and paranoia. They want it stopped.

Men are overrepresented on the anti-Islam websites

According to the new report from the newspaper Klassekampen (The Class Struggle, a left-wing Norwegian daily newspaper) single, childless and low-educated men over the age of 65 are overrepresented on the anti-Islam websites.

Klassekampen had used the analysis software “Alexa” to investigate eight anti-Islam websites including Gates of Vienna, Jihad Watch, Bryssel Journal, Islam Watch and Atlas Shrugged. According to the newspaper’s statistics people over the age of 65 are overrepresented on all of the sites. Here, men clearly dominate and most of them were not educated beyond the primary level.

Few of the site visitors have children, and most of those who visit these sites do so from their homes and from work. The statistics presented by the newspaper are well in line with the political landscape that dominates the European extreme-right parties, notes the journalist and author of “The Hate against Muslims”, Andreas Malm. “There is an obviousl dominance of older men, often unemployed, who can feel abandoned by the society seeking explanations and someone to blame”. Malm adds, “A typical conspiracy theoretician is older, lone man obsessed with a particular question (e.g. Muslim presence in the country etc.) and thus attracted to various anti-Islam conspiracy theories floating online.” His analysis is supported by Tor Bach, the chief editor of the website Vespen (the Wasp, a monitoring extremism site in Norway). “These group of older people have certain common traits.” He continues “firstly, their primary characteristic is that they feel suspicion against the entire society and the democratic system. Secondly, they hold a firm belief that someone will hurt them “. He is reluctant to generalize too much; nevertheless he maintains the notion that these men are angry and frustrated people who feel neglected when their opinion is not heard.

Documentary on Religious Wars

15./ 16.08.2011

Last week, the German television station “ZDF” aired the first of its five-part documentary on the history of religious wars with a special focus on Islam, entitled “Der Heilige Krieg” (Holy War). Motivated by the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, award-winning German journalist Guido Knopp, one of the key heads of the ZDF’s Contemporary History Department and well-known for his documentaries on the Third Reich, has explored the history of religious wars, going as far back as the 7th century. Each of the five parts of the documentary centres on distinct historical periods, starting with the 7th and 8th century in the first part, entitled “the prophet’s sword”. This is followed by episodes on the “Crusades to Jerusalem”, “Turks in Vienna”, “the Emperor’s Jihad”, and, the most topical, “terror in the name of faith”. Knopp’s final conclusion is that there is no such thing as a “holy war”. After it had been aired last Tuesday, the first episode received both positive as well as critical acclaim.

Citizens Forge a New Alliance against “Islamicization”

9 February 2011

A number of neighborhood anti-mosque initiatives in Vienna are coming together to create a new anti-Islam federation, the “Pro-Austria Movement” (BPÖ), also called the “Federation against Islamic Multipurpose Centers and the Islamicization of Austria.” The new federation brings together four separate citizens’ initiatives (Dammstraße, Trostgasse, Rappgasse, and the “Garten-Gallier”) which had been fighting against the construction of Islamic cultural centers in their neighborhoods.

While in many cases, the Islamic associations in question have already received permits for the construction of their respective centers, these associations still hold out hope that they may be able to stop the construction before it begins. “As long as there aren’t any construction machines showing up, I still have hope,” said Hannelore Schuster, spokesperson for the Dammstraße initiative.

In general, these citizens’ initiatives have protested against the noise and the traffic that these centers would supposedly bring with them, however on their web pages the main theme is Islam itself. According to Cengiz Günay, from the Austrian Institute for International Politics, there is a growing “ethnicization of everyday conflicts,” and that there would not be the same problems were non-Muslim groups to be interested in building such centers. He says the centers function merely as a “village square” for many immigrants who do in fact come from villages, and are simply seeking a place in which to meet. Nonetheless, he says he understands the feelings of the local residents involved in the anti-mosque initiatives, and regrets that the situation has now escalated to an “all or nothing” mindset on both sides.

Compromise is increasingly unlikely in many of these local conflicts. In the Dammstraße case, the local Turkish Muslim association ATIB is no longer speaking with the citizens’ initiative, though the latter would not accept the building of a smaller center as a compromise in any case.

Schuster continues to believe that with the new federation they will ultimately win. She points to positive signs from politicians, and not only the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), who finance the federation’s website: following the Vienna elections, the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) has been increasingly “reasonable.”