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03 December 2013

Survey on Islam in Austria: 18% of Muslims support death sentence for apostasy, 21.9% oppose democracy

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 (Note 1).

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”

(Note 1) 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.

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