‘Anti-mosque initiatives tap into a fear of Islam’

Spiegel Online interviews Oliver Geden, an expert on right-wing populism at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Regarding the tactics of far-right parties like the BZÖ and FPÖ in Austria, Geden states:

“These parties are very clever. They usually focus on the question of minarets, so they can say: ‘We’re not calling for a ban on Islam, but Muslims don’t need minarets to pray.’ If they claim that mosques or even small prayer halls should be banned, then many people would say that was going too far…. The man in the street has probably never thought about minarets before, but it taps into his fear of Islam and he can easily relate to the issue. The right-wing populist parties have an underlying narrative which is against Muslims, but in public they only say that they are against minarets, which they see as symbols of Islamic superiority. Then, if they are accused of being racist, they can counter by saying: ‘Well, we’re only against minarets – what’s your problem?'”