Austria’s Media Tend towards Islamophobia

26 October 2010

Islam often shows up in the headlines in Austrian newspapers, though rarely in a positive light. According to Professor Farid Hafez at the University of Vienna, the debate surrounding a statement made by the president of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ) Anas Schakfeh is symptomatic of the problem. Schakfeh had expressed his hope that in 50 years there would be a mosque in every provincial capital in Austria, a view which led to an enormous debate on minarets and mosques in Austria.
For Elizabeth Klaus, researcher at the University of Salzburg, the islamophobic tendencies in the media are evident. Klaus has been personally working on a study of the portrayal of Islam in a number of Austrian newspapers, and says that it is “frightening” how often the veil is used as a symbol for that which is “foreign, negative, and other.”
According to Cahit Kaya, president of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims, all those who call themselves Muslims must also accept that there will be criticism of Islam. Nonetheless, Hafez, Klaus, and Birol Kiliç, editor of the Turkish-language newspaper Yeni Vatan Gazetesi, all agree that the problem is that the criticism in question does not manage to differentiate between fundamentalists and the Islam practiced by the majority of Muslims.

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