Islam in Austria

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Mosque and Islamic centre in Vienna.

Islam is the second most widely professed religion in Austria, practiced by 5-6% of the total population according to 2010 estimates.[1] The vast majority of Muslims in Austria belong to Sunni denomination.[2] Most Muslims came to Austria during the 1960s as migrant workers from Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are also communities of Arab and Afghan origin. By various counts, Austria appears to have the highest percentage of Muslims in Western Europe.

The westernmost Bundesland Vorarlberg with its industrial small towns and villages has the highest share of Muslims in the country with 8.36% (it resembles the neighboring north-eastern parts of Switzerland in this respect). It is followed by the capital Vienna with 7.82%. The central Bundesländer Salzburg, Upper Austria, Tyrol and Lower Austria follow with the share of Muslim population at around the average. South-eastern states of Styria, Carinthia as well as Burgenland in the east have fewer Muslims whose numbers are below the national average. Of the 300 Ahmadi Muslims in Austria, about one third reside in Vienna.[3]

Austria is unique among Western European countries insofar as it has granted Muslims the status of a recognized religious community. This dates back to the times following the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. Austria has regulated the religious freedoms of the Muslim community with the so-called "Anerkennungsgesetz" ("Act of Recognition") in 1912 and was the first Western European country to do so. This law was of no relevance after the breakdown of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1918 until when the Community of Muslim believers in Austria (Islamische Glaubensgemeinschaft in Österreich) was founded in 1979. This organization is entitled to give lessons of religious education in state schools. It is also allowed to collect "church tax" but so far it has not exercised this privilege and does not build, finance or administer mosques in Austria. In 2013 Austria has granted the status of a recognized religious community to Alevism.[4]

Parallel structures exist within the Islamic religious group. The religious life takes place in mosques belonging to organisations that represent one of the currents of Turkish, Bosnian and Arab Muslims. Among the Turkish organisations the "Federation of Turkish-Islamic Associations" is controlled by the Directorate for Religious Affairs, whereas the other groups, such as the Süleymancıs and Milli Görüş, may be considered as branches of the pan-European organisation centered in Germany.

In February, 2015, a new Islamgesetz (Islam Law) was passed by the Austrian parliament, illegalizing foreign funding of mosques and paying salaries of imams, and regulating the version of the Koran that may be used in Austria.[5] The foreign affairs minister, Sebastian Kurz, said the changes were intended to "clearly combat" the influence of radical Islam in Austria.[6] The leader of Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, called the law "positive and productive (befruchtend) for the discussion in Germany".[7]

Muslims in Austria according to their ethnic groups[edit]

A Mosque in Telfs.
Nationality Population Year
Turks 500,000+ [8]
Bosniaks 128,047 [9]
Afghans 31,300 [citation needed]
Kurds 26,770 [citation needed]
Chechens 25,000 [10]
Iranians 12,452 [citation needed]
Arabs 12,100 [citation needed]
Pakistanis 8,490 [citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ How many Muslims live in Austria
  2. ^ Islam in Österreich
  3. ^ Jørgen Nielsen, Samim Akgönül, Ahmet Alibašić, Egdunas Raciu. Yearbook of Muslims in Europe, Volume 5. p. 55. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Anerkennung der Anhänger der Islamischen Alevitischen Glaubensgemeinschaft als Religionsgesellschaft" (in German). Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria. 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2013-05-24. 
  5. ^ Muslims in this country allowed only German language Qurans, Reuters, February 28, 2015 – via India Today 
  6. ^ Elahe Izadi (February 26, 2015), "Austria is taking controversial steps to tighten a 100-year-old 'Law on Islam'", The Washington Post 
  7. ^ "Wie Österreichs Islamgesetz die deutsche Debatte befruchtet", Suddeutsche Zeitung, February 25, 2015 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Bosnian Austrians
  10. ^ Refworld | Continuing Human Rights Abuses Force Chechens to Flee to Europe

Further reading[edit]