Far-right party tries to ban mosque construction

BZOA far-right party in the Austrian state of Carinthia, led by the notorious right-wing politician Jörg Haider, is trying to ban the construction of mosques and minarets. They’ve presented a draft law designed to prohibit “unusual” buildings that don’t fit in with traditional architecture.

In the latest anti-Islam initiative by right-wing politicians in Austria, the government in the state of Carinthia, which is led by right-wing populist Jörg Haider, has presented a bill that would hinder the future building of mosques in the state.

“With the help of this law, it will be de facto impossible to construct mosques or minarets in Carinthia,” Uwe Scheuch, the minister responsible for urban planning, told journalists Saturday at a press conference where he presented the draft law. Scheuch, who belongs to Haider’s right-wing Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) party, insisted, however, that the law would not infringe on Austria’s constitutional right to freedom of religion.

BZÖ will need the support of the conservative Austrian People’s Party if it is to get the draft law passed in the state government. That seems assured, however, as the People’s Party had asked the state government last year to prepare a draft law to ban the construction of mosques and minarets.

The draft law reflects a growing wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in Austria, where Muslims make up around 4 percent of the population. Another Austrian state, Vorarlberg, which has the highest proportion of Muslims in Austria, is also considering a ban on minarets.

Erwin Pröll, the governor of the state of Lower Austria, who belongs to the People’s Party, recently described minarets as “alien” to Austrian culture in a television interview. Susanne Winter, a politician for the right-wing Freedom Party, which Haider used to belong to before splitting off to set up the BZÖ, called the Prophet Muhammad a “child molester” during a recent election campaign.

Spiegel Online, 28 January 2008