Austria celebrates ‘model’ law on Islam

Austria has had a checkered history when it comes to relations with Muslims, but its 100-year-old Law on Islam is seen as a symbol of tolerance. The law gives Muslims the same rights as other officially recognised religions in Austria, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, Judaism and Buddhism.

At the weekend senior members of the Austrian government and the country’s Islamic Community attended ceremonies to mark the centenary.

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

In a speech at Vienna’s neo-Gothic town hall, the head of Austria’s Islamic Community, Fuat Sanac, described the law as an example for the rest of Europe. Islam in Austria, he said, was seen by most people as an enrichment, not as a danger.

BBC News, 3 July 2012

See also “Austrian President: We are very proud to have recognized Islam for 100 years”, Today’s Zaman, 25 June 2012