'Quran-tine?': Coronavirus isolation led Austrian MMA fighter to Islam

'Quran-tine?': Coronavirus quarantine led Austrian MMA fighter to Islam
2 min read
19 April, 2020
Wilhelm Ott announced his conversion to Islam in an Instagram post on Thursday.
The MMA fighter announced the move on social media [Instagram]
An Austrian professional Mixed Martial Arts [MMA] fighter said he converted to Islam after studying the religion more extensively during his time in quarantine.

Wilhelm Ott released a video online on Thursday in which he recites the proclamation of Islam, or the "Shahada", which officially signifies the start of his journey as a Muslim.

"This is my religion, I am a proud Muslim now," he says in the video.

The fighter noted the global coronavirus pandemic crisis gave him the opportunity to reflect and find his faith in God, saying "Islam has been on his mind for years".

"But there were also times when I could do nothing with it and I let myself be influenced politically but Islam gave me the necessary strength when I had to go through hard times," he added.

Ott, who has been boxing professionally since 2008, uploaded a second social media post the following day showing him pictured with the Holy Quran that was reportedly gifted to him by fellow Muslim MMA boxer Burak Kizilirmak.

Read also: WATCH: Mexican couple converts to Islam with 'Ertugral' actor

Instagram Post

Ott thanked "the entire Muslim community" for the warm welcome and confirmed he was now preparing for the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan for the first time.

In 2018, Austria triggered outrage after its far-right interior minister announced a crackdown on "political Islam" in the country.

Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, of the far-right Freedom Party, told a press conference in 2018 that at least 150 people were expected to be expelled from Austria and seven mosques shuttered, in the government's sweep of foreign-funded and "political Islamist" mosques.

"The circle of people possibly affected by these measures - the pool that we're talking about - comprises around 60 imams," Kickl said, whose far-right party is a junior partner in the right-wing government.

At the time, imams from the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Association were already being expelled from Austria, while the Arab Religious Community - which runs six mosques - is also being dissolved.

The actions are based on a 2015 law banning foreign funding of religious communities and organisations in Austria.

The crackdown follow laws banning the Muslim niqab and a potential ban on girls aged under-10 from wearing the hijab.

Austria's right-wing government has promised to enact tougher restrictions on immigration and a crackdown on political Islam in the country.

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