Austria: Army appoints two imams

"A quiet revolution is under way in devoutly Catholic Austria. In March the Austrian army will appoint two imams to watch over its young Muslim recruits," writes Maurin Picard, the daily's Vienna correspondent. "The idea was first aired in 2006, but in the wake of fierce debate within the army it has taken two years to put in place the controversial measure [announced on Sunday January 13th]. ... With over 1,000 soldiers, or 3.5 % of the armed forces, of Muslim obedience, Islam is now the second largest religion in the military institution, ahead of protestantism. ... Contrary to the received ideas put about by Austria's far right, it is not the first time that the army has incorporated Muslims in its ranks. With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1912, whole units of soldiers from the province of Bosnia - annexed after a brief war - were freely able to practice their faith."

Source: Courier International (English)

See also: Le Soir (French)

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