Austrian Muslim Body Elects its Chair While Government Pressure on Muslim Community Mounts

Austria Islamic Community elects Umit Vural as its new chairman despite Egyptian diaspora’s opposition while Muslim community has been under immense pressure of Vienna government.

Austrian Muslim body IGGO which is officially recognized by the Austrian government as the sole representer of the Austrian Muslim community, held its early general assembly on December 8th following a tumultuous year to elect a new president. Turkish-descent Umit Vural won the elections with 91 in favor and 11 opposing.

Austrian government shot down 7 Arab mosques in June on the grounds that they promote Salafism and said it would not renew working permits of 40 Imams for violating Islam law of the country. A Turkish mosque was also shot down but turned out later on that it operated without the permission of IGGO.

The new chairman Vural Overcoming internal rifts to gather a vast support of the members released a video right after the elections in which he stressed that IGGO has to reform itself in order to better struggle against mounting government pressure and rising Islamophobia in the country. “Our problems have never been as big as today. There are mosques without Imams, schools without teachers, Muslim inmates without spiritual guidance,” said Vural in his statement.

A hard year lies ahead of the new administration as the government prepares to mount more pressure on the Islamic institutions and Muslim community in Austria. The government had previously stated that it objects Turkey sending Imams to Austria and plans to prevent the practice. It was reported before that German government is also preparing yo ban Turkish imams.

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