Austria: Calls for resignation of Muslim community head

Austria: Calls for resignation of Muslim community head

The dismissal of a progressive Muslim teacher by the IGGiÖ (Islamic faith community of Austria) Wednesday provoked an outcry among politicians, who criticized the conservatism of this institution.

El Ghoubashy was punished for publishing an opinion column in Der Standard Tuesday where he said that Islam classes, as they were planned, failed to integrate Young Muslims into society [Lernen für das Leben in der Isolation (Learning for life in isolation)].  The president of the IGGiÖ, Anas Schakfeh, justified this decision, stressing that these remarks deliberately caused considerable harm to the organization.

The Social-Democrat Party of Chancellor Werner Faymaan strongly condemned the dismissal.  Punishing a religion teacher who says he supports internal reform is completely incomprehensible and contrary to the intention of the Education Ministry, they said. Unusually in agreement, the opposition Greens party, as well as FPÖ and BZÖ, both of the extreme right, called in the strongest terms for the resignation of Schakfeh.

In office since 1999, Schakfeh's position weakened in recent weeks when he tried to prevent the publication of a study by the University of Vienna which showed 22% of Islam teachers interviewed in Austria rejected democracy.  Moreover, in mid-February he was ordered by Education Minister Claudia Schmied to fire a teacher who distributed in class a list of "Jewish" multinationals to boycott.

Austria finances religious classes which, besides exemptions, are obligatory in schools.  Appointing and inspecting teachers is, however, the responsibility of the different religious communities.  Austria employs 294 Islam teachers for 50,000 Muslim students.

Source: 7sur7 (French)

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* Austria: Islam teachers - 22% oppose democracy, 8% support violence
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