Alwaght- The growing Islamophobia in addition to creating social problems for Muslim communities in the Western countries plays a marked role in shaping discriminatory laws limiting the rights of the Muslims for freedom of beliefs and religious ceremonies.
Recently, Austrian government published “political Islam map”, which identifies the locations of mosques and Muslim associations around the country, triggering outcry of Muslim community in the European country.
To counter political Islam, the Austrian government published a map on May 27, entitled "Islam map", which lists the names and addresses of 623 mosques and Islamic organizations in the country. In addition, information about the relations of mosques and Islamic organizations with foreign sides is given in this map. However, the map, prepared by the Documentation Center for Political Islam, has provoked a huge wave of critical reactions.
But what is the government's goal behind this move?
Government unveils, defends political Islam map
The unveiling of the Islam map came as the Austrian government on November 11, 2020, following a deadly attack by a Takfiri that left 24 dead and wounded, issued a wide range of instructions under "counter-terrorism" measures. The most important of them was criminalization of political Islam. In other words, the government recognized as a crime the tendency to political Islam. The country's parliament approved the bill in December last year.
Now, based on this law and relying on the criminalization of the supporters of political Islam, the Austrian government has introduced a wide and long list of mosques and Islamic associations as centers of political Islam. The political authorities of the Austrian government defend this plan and refer to it as a "necessity." Chancellor Sébastien Kurz of Austria lauded the map as part of the campaign to battle political Islam. Susanne Raab, minister of refugee affairs, reflecting the same idea, said that the map is an effort to fight ideologies that "threaten the values of liberal democracy."
Still, Islamic societies and even Christians have lashed out at the government for the plan and labeled it an "open discrimination" that would create grounds for insecurity. Muslim Youth Austria declared that it would sue the government for the publication. According to the advocacy organization, publishing the names and addresses of hundreds of mosques and Islamic centers puts the Austrian Muslim at risk.
“Imagine if we had a Judaism map or a Christianity map in Austria,” Muslim Austrians Initiative chairman Tarafa Baghajati told broadcaster ORF.
The map drew reactions from other religions. Protestant Church of Austria expressed concerns with the map. Bishop Michael Chaloupka of the Protestant Church called on Raab to delete the map from the Internet. These reactions have one thing to tell us: The Austrian government's measure never represents the public demands but those of a specific circle.
Deliberate damaging of Islam image
The map of political Islam goes beyond a initiative staged by a specific right-wing party or government and reveals a mean project that has been in the works over the past two decades especially after the 9/11 attacks and seeks to plant in the Western public minds an Islam-means-terrorism picture.
Over the past two years, the Austrian media and right-wing government, led by Austrian People's Party (OVP), have made extensive efforts to portray Islam and Muslims in a negative way. The Austrian government's recent political Islam map clearly shows that they have deliberately implied that Islam, which is the religion of 8 percent of the Austrians, and terrorism are equal.
Actually, the Austrian government and the ruling party, via extensive media propaganda, are trying to relate Muslims, who are themselves victims to terrorism, to the takfiri terrorists.
In addition to drawing parallels between the Muslims and terrorists, the political Islam map is meant to fuel Islamophobia. After 9/11, a wave of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment spread across Europe, though gradually subsided. But in the years after 2013, when the ISIS terrorist group was created and organized in Syria and Iraq with the financial, intelligence and military assistance of Western and Arab governments, a new wave of Islamophobic propaganda spread throughout Europe.
The controversial decision by the right-wing government in Vienna comes at a time the country has not only refused to condemn the brutal Israeli air raids on civilian places and the killing of women and children during recent bombing campaign in the besieged Gaza but also on the Austrian PM office's rooftop the Israeli flag was raised and Kurz in comments defended the move and questioned the self-defense of the Palestinian resistance.
As they reacted seriously to the French President Emmanuel Macron's defense for insulting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo magazine under the excuse of freedom of speech, the Muslims need to strongly respond to Vienna government’s Islamophobic measures. Responding to the French Islamophobic cartoons, French goods boycott campaign was organized, resulting in Paris retreat from its initial position. At present, a similar pressure tool can work against the Austrian government.