The Threat of Islam in Austria
from Gates of Vienna
I previously reported on a survey of Flemish voters that showed how many people in Flanders consider Islam a threat, despite all the decades of multicultural indoctrination.
Now comes a mirror-image survey from Austria, showing the intolerant and non-integrative attitudes of Austria’s Muslims. And remember: teachers were the ones being surveyed. These weren’t ignorant denizens of the “Muslim street”; they were the people officially charged by the Austrian state with Islamic education.
Our Austrian correspondent ESW has compiled a report based on German-language sources. First, her prefatory note:
Muslims in Austria, especially those of official Islam, are highly nervous about the study that was made public two days ago.
Mouhanad Khorchide is a fairly well-known scientist, often invited to discussions. He was also on the panel at the recent discussion at the political academy of the ÖVP, where he filled in for Tariq Ramadan. He can certainly be considered a liberal Muslim, but a Muslim nonetheless.
I am wary of him, but he is helpful, because Muslims cannot complain about the study having been written by infidels; it was written by one of their own. This is the main reason for their nervousness. Even the political left is nervous about the results of the study. Some even consider revoking Islam’s status as a religious group if changes are not made.
However, I am looking forward to watching these changes unfold. How can the Quran and its contents be changed? People need to realize that it is not the teachers who are the problem, but rather Islam.
Will there be a special Quran for Austria? An Austrian Islam? What will Saudi Arabia say?
Interesting times. The truth will prevail. The lie of Islam will hopefully be exposed. Thank you, Mr. Khorchide. You have helped the Counterjihad more than you will ever know!
Here is the translation of an article from Wednesday’s Die Presse:
Islamic Teachers A Problem
One in five teachers of Islam (21.9%) has a problem with democracy. And he or she even says so openly. This is the result of a written survey meticulously conducted by the sociologist and scientist Mouhanad Khorchide. Apart from the above assertion, there is additional explosive data: 14.7% distance themselves from the Austrian constitution, 13.9% are of the opinion that elections are not compatible with Islam, and 28.4% believe that it is not possible to be a European and Muslim at the same time.
Even more, there are those among the polled Islamic teachers (18.2%) who advocate the death penalty in case of apostasy. And 8.5% sympathize with those using violence to spread Islam.
Anas Shakfeh, the head of the Islamic Faith Community in Austria, also concludes that beliefs and attitudes such as the above are highly problematic. However, direct consequences cannot be drawn from this study because the questionnaires were made anonymous. “I cannot react to a private opinion,” Shakfeh says. If a teacher does make these statements, there would be consequences.
But the hiring of Islamic teachers is the responsibility of Islamic Faith Community, not that of the state. This resulted in the hiring of teachers who were inadequately trained or not trained at all. 37% of those teaching right now have no theological training, 41% are not trained as teachers — all this can also be found in the study.
The Faith Community blames these numbers on “relics”: when Islamic religious teaching was first introduced in 1982, there were no qualified teachers in Austria, which meant they had to be “imported” from Turkey. Only in 1998 was the Islamic Religious Academy (IRPA) founded in Vienna [as part of the University of Vienna].
Things have since changed somewhat, says Khorchide. “Second-generation religious teachers identify more strongly with Austria. They do not have deficits [such as those found in the study].” On the other hand, these younger teachers do not emphasize critical reflection, but rather convey rituals and laws. There remains much to do.
The title of the study was: Mouhanad Khorchide, “Islamic Religious Education between Integration and Parallel Societies: Attitudes and Beliefs of Islamic Religious Teachers in Public Schools”
The survey questions were:
|1.||“I oppose democracy because it cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Islam.”|
|2.||“I believe it is not possible to be a European and a Muslim.”|
|3.||“Islam forbids taking part in elections (i.e. voting).”|
|4.||“I oppose the Austrian constitution because it is in contradiction with Islam.”|
|5.||“Islam dies not allow participation in Austrian cultural activities (theater, art, etc.).”|
|6.||“I oppose the Human Rights Convention because it is not compatible with Islamic teachings.”|
Who is Mouhanad Khorchide?
The 37-year old Lebanese native considers himself a liberal Muslim who does not read the Quran as the literal word of God, and who applies scientific methods when he trains religious teachers and works as an imam.
What makes his Ph.D. thesis so exceptional is its exclusive approach in matters of Islam, school and integration. The higher echelons in the Faith Community saw potential in Khorchide and in 2007 gave him permission to hand out his questionnaires at a conference for religious teachers. 210 teachers (out of 330) teachers returned the questionnaires. Experts say that results are particularly representative for Vienna and Lower Austria [two states in the eastern part of Austria]. The best and most highly trained teachers can be found in these two states.
The study finds a quarter of teachers who answer questions regarding democracy, rule of law, and integration precisely the way right-wing populists allege and liberals fear. The older the teacher, the greater the rejection of the rule of law and democratic principles. What is especially disconcerting is that 44% of the teachers believe that students primarily need to learn about feelings of superiority.
One in three teachers does not hold Austrian citizenship. Teachers hail from Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, first-generation immigrants who were not exposed to democratic values and freedom in their home countries. How can they now convey these values to their students?
The Faith Community is represented by Anas Shakfeh. He has been president for ten years and worked as a teacher. Official Austria holds him in high regard on integration matters. He was even given a prestigious award for his efforts. Shakfeh is the head of the Islamic education authority and taught without formal training for 20 years. He also works for the Saudi Arabian embassy in Vienna. Is one who works for an inhuman theocracy and who knows little about education science and teaching skills the right man to establish an open and modern Islamic religious education?
A couple of weeks ago he subtly denied Israel’s right to exist. As a result, our interview starts with a discussion about the war in Gaza. Khorchide’s study? He has read parts of it. “They’re not catastrophic, but also not OK”, Shakfeh says. “Since Khorchide also teaches at university, it is also up to him to make improvements.”
Here are some of the first political reactions, as summarized by ESW from ORF:
Both the minister of education and the mayor of Vienna are publicly demanding consequences. Interestingly enough, both the minister and the mayor are members of the socialist parties.
Says mayor Michael Häupl: “The fact that a fifth of the Islamic religious teachers oppose democracy causes me sleepless nights. If I had a study like this about indigenous teachers, I would faint.” He warns that any changes in the way teachers are trained would also mean consequences for Catholic teachers, because according to the law on religious education of 1949, it is the religious groups who are in charge of religious education; the state only acts as a supervisor.
Minister Claudia Schmied said in an interview with Austrian television that this survey calls for consequences and that she will seek a meeting with Anas Shakfeh.
All other Austrian political parties have already reacted to the controversial survey well before the socialists did: Sirvan Ekici (ÖVP, conservative party), in charge of integration matters, wants the Faith Community to make sure its teachers conform to Austrian laws and values.
Socialists demand a “comprehensive explanation from the Faith Community. It is necessary to make sure that nothing that goes against democratic values is taught. There is no room for fundamentalist tendencies.”
The Freedom Party (FPÖ) and Jörg Haider’s spin-off, BZÖ, are in agreement that mosques and schools need to be monitored closely. This should be done by the Federal Agency for State Protection and Counterterrorism, since the Faith Community is unwilling or unable to take care of this.
Even the Green Party finds the results of the study troubling: “Whoever opposes human rights or demands the death penalty for apostasy is not fit to teach in Austrian schools,” says Harald Walser, who also warns of the existence of parallel societies.
Some more background from ORF:
Islamic religious teaching has been taking place at Austrian public schools for 27 years. There are 350 teachers for 32,000 students. Khorchide adds that there has never been a scientific evaluation of Islamic religious classes. Until 1998, when the university institute IRPA was founded, teachers were recruited among the Arab population in Austria. Some of those have radical tendencies and continue teaching to this day.
See ESW’s Counterjihad Brussels report on Islam in Austria (pdf) for further background on the religious status of Austria.