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Law on Islam completes 100 years in Austria

Published: 10/07/2012 07:50:00 PM GMT
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Vienna: Austria has celebrated the completion of 100 years of Law on Islam in the country as the religion is one of the recognized religions of Austria.

By Farhan Iqbal

Vienna: Austria has celebrated the completion of 100 years of Law on Islam in the country as the religion is one of the recognized religions of Austria.

Law recognizing the Islam as an official religion of Austria has marked the completion of a century despite the country has experienced many ups and downs as far as relations with the Muslims are concerned during the past centuries.

The occasion of the 100th anniversary of law on Islam is being praised and seen as a symbol of religious tolerance in Austria. The law gives Muslims the same rights as other officially recognized religions in Austria, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, Judaism and Buddhism.

So Islam has been an officially recognized religion in Austria for 100 years and at the weekend senior members of the Austrian government and the country's Islamic Community attended ceremonies to mark the centenary of law on Islam.

The members of the Austrian Islamic Community termed the Law on Islam as unique in Europe as it provides the Muslims religious freedom in the country and wide-ranging rights including religious education in state schools, administration of internal affairs and public worship.

The head of Austria's Islamic Community, Fuat Sanac, described the law on Islam in Austria as an example for the rest of Europe in a speech at Vienna's neo-Gothic town hall.

He stated, “Islam in Austria is seen by most people as enrichment, not as a danger.”

The President of Austria, Heinz Fischer, speaking at the same ceremony, called for peaceful and respectful relations. He stressed that Austria's official religions, because of their legal status, are obliged to “respect and accept the laws of the state.”

The article 1 of Law on Islam 1912 says, “The adherents of Islam shall be granted recognition as a religious community in the kingdoms and crown-lands represented in the Imperial Council in the meaning of the Constitutional Law of 21 December, 1867... The religious community of the adherents of Islam according to the Hanafite rite shall... enjoy the same legal protection as is granted to other legally recognized religious communities. The doctrines of Islam, its institutions and customs shall enjoy the same protection too, unless they are in contradiction to state law.”

According to a counselor in Vienna city, Omar Al-Rawi, the law not only does much to integrate the Muslims into Austria but it also gives them a sense of belonging in the country.

He said, “Austria is a model in Europe in dealing with Islam, but the Austrian Muslims are also a European model.”

He added, “The Muslims know that with rights there are also obligations and duties. And if you have a lot of rights and benefits, you also have something to lose.”

“Austrian Muslims go all over the world saying we are Austrians, we belong to this country that gave us respect and recognition and gave us a lot of benefits that even some Muslim countries don't enjoy. And that is why they are very proud saying that they are Austrians,” Al-Rawi concluded.

Bethany Bell speaks to Muslims in the Austrian capital Vienna