by Kaoru Inoue
Austria is a multiethnic and diverse country where the the population, as of July 2012, is 8,219,743 – 91.1% of that is Austrians, 4% are Yugoslavs, 1.6% are Turks, 0.9% is German, and followed by some others; the official language is German but there are Turkish, Serbian, Croatian minor speakers. The biggest religion is Roman Catholicism, accounting for 73.6% of total, followed by 4.7% of Protestants. There are 4.2% Muslims. Bell (2012) states, “In Vienna, Islam is the second-largest religious grouping, after Roman Catholicism”, and she silently argues Muslim migrants in Austria live in far better conditions compared to other European cities. This short paper will explore Muslims in Austria by focusing on the Law of Islam.
Dr. Marik-Lebeck (Janda, Vogl, Marik-Lebeck, & Kreisky, 2010) analyzed the Muslim population in Austria. He maintains that the number of Muslims is increasing recently and interestingly, half of the Muslims had the Austrian citizenship in 2009 and in 2001, there were only 28% of Austrian citizenship holders. He analyzes the reasons, “the growth of Muslim population was rather due to births than to migration in 2001-2009” (Janda, Vogl, Marik-Lebeck, & Kreisky, 2010) Clearly he says how migration influx is declined while the number of births is increased. On this context, the number of Muslim migrant could have boosted because something else in the meantime has stored, allowing harmonization of Muslims and Roman Catholics.
Islamgesetz, the Law on Islam, was enforced in 1912, it is 100-year-old this year. Bell (2012) introduces the Law, “the law gives Muslims the same rights as other officially recognised religions in Austria.” Kreisky (2010) gives the background of the law; first it was a tool to allow Muslim soldiers of Bosnia-Herzegovina to be integrated; secondly, it became “the legal foundation for the integration of the Muslim population as a minority” (5); thirdly, it was used to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina into Austria-Hungary. Muslims since then have been granted the equal rights like the rest of people have.
The number of Muslims migrated to Austria in the 1960s and because of the law, Bell notices how harmonization has been processed well. Austrian Muslims identify themselves as Austrians. At a recent ceremony, Fuat Sanac clearly stated how Austrian Muslim law is a model and Islam is not viewed as danger (Bell 2012).
In conclusion, Austrians and Muslims are all Austrians – harmonization is going well up until now because the impact of the law is immense.
Austria [The World Factbook]. (2012, November 6). Retrieved November 10, 2012, from Central Intelligence Agency website: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/au.html
Bell, B. (2012, July 3). Austria celebrates ‘model’ law on Islam. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18675493
Janda, A., Vogl, M., Marik-Lebeck, S., & Kreisky, M. J. (2010). The Muslim population in Austria. Islam in Austria. Retrieved from http://www.integrationsfonds.at/fileadmin/Integrationsfond/5_wissen/Islam_Reader/Islamreader_Zsfg_E_Bearbeitung.pdf