Austria: "Muslim community" throws hissy fit over sacked teacher

What could possibly be wrong with distributing anti-Semitic leaflets and incitement against Jews? Poor fella! He was just doing his Islamic duty!

* Study concludes Muslim teachers in Austria have largely anti-democratic beliefs and one in five is “fanatical”.

* The older the teachers, the more likely they are to reject the principle of the rule of law.


Austrian Times

Vienna’s Muslim community has voiced its anger over the sacking of a Islamic religion teacher by the federal government for distributing anti-Semitic leaflets to pupils.

Social Democrat (SPÖ) Education Minister Claudia Schmied ordered the city school council yesterday (Thurs) to bar the teacher who had been teaching at the Cooperative Secondary School (KMS) on Brüßlgasse in Wien-Ottakring district. She said “delay would be dangerous.”

The leaflets contained a list of allegedly “Jewish” firms from which, the man told the students, they should not buy anything.

A Muslim Teachers Association spokesman claimed today the man had said: “Every form of racism and anti-Semitism contradicts the ethnics of Islam and my own ethical principles.”

The spokesman added the man felt bewildered, considered himself the object of persecution and had denied he had distributed such leaflets to his students.

The man had claimed the students themselves had drawn up the list of supposedly Jewish firms and sent them to one another as SMS, the spokesman said.

The banning of the man from teaching, the spokesman added, “without examination of the evidence and without having heard from both sides was an overreaction.”

The education ministry, however, said today the man had confessed to distribution of the lists, and school director Karlheinz Fiedler told ORF Radio Wien the students had told him the teacher had distributed the lists.

The city school council said today it had become aware of the teacher’s activity on 21 January after a district inspector and the school director had informed it the teacher had been engaging in political agitation in the classroom.

The council added the teacher had been informed in a document he might face disciplinary proceedings. The council said the teacher had returned the document with his signature on it, which, the council declared, constituted an admission of improper behaviour.

The Islamic Believers Denomination informed the teacher on 28 January it would take disciplinary action against him.

Schmied’s intervention came in the wake of a study concluding Islamic instruction in Austria has to change to comply with modern standards.

Mouhanad Khorchide is a professor of the sociology of religion at the Islamic Religion and Pedagogical Institute at Vienna University and the author of the new study, “Islamic religious instruction between integration and a parallel society.”

Khorchide’s study concludes Muslim teachers in Austria have largely anti-democratic beliefs and one in five is “fanatical”.

Khorchide, himself a Muslim, said 22.6 per cent of the 210 Muslim teachers he had surveyed had “fanatical attitudes” and 21.9 per cent rejected democracy as incompatible with Islam.

The older the teacher, Khorchide said, the more likely he was to reject the principle of the rule of law.

According to Vienna weekly “Falter”, the study claimed 8.5 per cent of the Muslim teachers said it was understandable for violence to be used to spread Islam, 28.4 per cent said there was a contradiction in being both a Muslim and a European, and 44 per cent said they had to make their students understand they were better than non-Muslims.

In addition, 29 per cent said it was impossible for Muslims to integrate in Austria without losing their Muslim identity, and 55 per cent called Austrians xenophobic.

On the other hand, 85.7 per cent said they did not believe Muslims had to keep to themselves to avoid losing their Muslim identity.

The education Ministry and the Austrian Islamic Denomination recently agreed on a package of changes providing for new contracts for Islamic instructors and new lesson plans for the teaching of Islam in Austrian public schools.