Translator: Zeynep Öncül
In this paper of the Islam ‘Around the World’ series, we are going to talk about Austria: a country that is mostly known when its capital city, Vienna, is mentioned. You will find answers to certain questions, such as “How did Islam arrive in Austria?, “How many Muslims live there?”, “What are some popular mosques?” “Who are the important figures and institutions in the country?” and “What are some of the challenges Muslims face in Austria?” in the following paragraphs.
1How large is the Muslim population in Austria?
Research from a 2016 paper stated that Austria has a population of 8,9 million people and 700.00 of them are Muslims. The majority of these Muslims are citizens of Turkish and Bosnian origin, the rest consist of Macedonian, Arab, and Iranian origin. The reason for such diversity is the admission of guest workers to the country by the Austrian state in the 1970s.
2How and when did Islam arrive in Austria?
Although few, there were Muslims in the region from the 10th century. These Muslims were Turkic Bulgars, coming to the lands of Austria when Hungary was annexed. After the Siege of Vienna and the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, public interest in Islam and academic studies of the orientalists increased. In fact, the number of Muslims in those lands was over 600.000. The actual encounter with Islam, however, happened following 2 major events. By the 1900s, Bosnian students came to the university in Vienna, and in 1960, workers came to the country. The Austrian State established the Islamic law in 1912 and founded its religious state institution for the first time in 1979, recognizing Islam as a religious community.
3What are some popular mosques in Austria?
The most popular mosque in Austria due to its minaret lies in the capital city. The mosque is called the Islamic Centre of Vienna. Other than the Islamic Center of Vienna, there are many mosques founded by institutions both in the capital and in different cities. All the mosques and institutions are gathered under the previously mentioned Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGÖ) which is a governmental institution officialized in 1979.
4Who are the most significant Islamic figures?
Significant figures and institutions are working in the name of Islam in Austria. IGGÖ (Islamic Religious Community in Austria) makes a lot of contributions that are involving all the mosques and institutions. The Islamic Rel. Institute in Austria (IRPA), on the other hand, provides training for Islamic education and Islamic pedagogy.
Among the significant figures making important impacts in the country are Umit Vural, Ramazan Demir, and Amani Abu Zahra. Other remarkable figures studying in the academic field are Farid Hafez, Amena Shakir, and Galib Stanfel.
5What is the biggest challenge Muslims face in Austria?
Among the most common problems Muslims encounter in daily life, Islamophobia and racism are the most apparent deal. With the immigration crisis in 2015, political disturbance, racism, and hatred towards other nationalities and religions have been increasing. Women wearing a headscarf are the ones exposed to insults the most, as they are the most outstanding group in appearance.
Islamophobia, crimes, and insults against Muslims and other minorities are recorded by the institution Dokustelle Wien, and statistical inferences are made. Academicians, like Farid Hafez, are fighting against Islamophobia in the political aspect very effectively, not only in Austria but also in western countries in general.
This article was originally written in Turkish. Click to read it! 5 Soruda Avusturya’da İslam
A lifelong student passionate about visual arts and social sciences.