Austrian Muslims to sue government over 'Islam map'

Austrian Muslims to sue government over controversial 'Islam map'
2 min read
30 May, 2021
A Muslim group in Austria has started litigation proceedings against the government after it released a controversial 'Islam map'.
IZW Viennese Islamic Center mosque, Austria [Getty]

A Muslim group in Austria has filed a lawsuit against the government chancellor behind the controversial "Islam map" website, which shows the locations of more than 600 mosques and Muslim associations across the country.

Muslim Youth Austria wants to sue chancellor Sebastian Kurz for publishing a "political Islam map", which the group says could lead to hate crimes.

"The publication of all names, functions and addresses of Muslim institutions and institutions that have been read as Muslim represents an unprecedented crossing of boundaries," the group said on Saturday.

The Austrian government came under fire on Thursday for its latest "Islam map" site, showing the location of mosques and associations around the country, with religious groups saying it would stigmatise Austria’s Muslim population.

The interactive map - compiled in collaboration with the University of Vienna and the Documentation Center of Political Islam- alarmed many of Austria's Muslims and rights organisations. The ruling centre-right OeVP party's coalition partner, the Greens, also distanced itself from it.

The Green party’s spokeswoman for integration Faika El-Nagashi complained that "no Green minister or MP was involved or even told about it. The project mixes Muslims with Islamists and is the contrary to what integration policy should look like."

Turkey joined in the chorus of condemnation on Friday.

"The presentation by Integration Minister Susanne Raab of a map listing all Muslim associations in Austria... is inadmissible," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement, urging Vienna not "to compile a register of Muslims", but to adopt "a responsible policy".

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Raab has insisted that the map was not meant to "place Muslims in general under suspicion", and its aim was "to fight political ideologies, not religion".

However, since a jihadist attack left four people dead in Vienna last November -- the first to be carried out in Austria - a rise has been reported in the number of incidents in verbal and physical attacks against Muslims in the country.

Austria's Muslim representative council, IGGOe, said the map "demonstrates the government's manifest intent to stigmatise all Muslims as a potential danger," and it complained that "racism against Muslims is growing".