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 7% of the total population according to 2014 estimates and 13.5% of all newborn in 2014 had Muslim mother..[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.

Most Muslims live in the capital Vienna (12.5%) followed by the westernmost state Vorarlberg. Its industrial small towns and villages have the second highest share of Muslims in the country with 11.5% (it resembles the neighboring north-eastern parts of Switzerland in this respect). The central states Salzburg, Upper Austria, Tyrol and Lower Austria follow with the share of Muslim population at around the average. The South-eastern states Styria, Carinthia as well as Burgenland in the east have fewer Muslims than 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. Contrary to reports in the media, the law does not regulate the version of the Koran that may be used in Austria, but central tenets of the religion must be presented to the authorities in German.[5][6] It also gives Muslims additional rights, such as the rights to halal food and pastoral care in the military. The minister for Integration, Sebastian Kurz, said the changes were intended to "clearly combat" the influence of radical Islam in Austria.[5] 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. ^ Muslime in Österreich
  2. ^ Islam in Österreich Archived 2014-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ a b Elahe Izadi (February 26, 2015), "Austria is taking controversial steps to tighten a 100-year-old 'Law on Islam'", The Washington Post 
  6. ^ "Islamgesetz 2015" (in German). Legal Information System of the Republic of Austria. 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  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]