Vienna is a city bursting with history. The Vienna of jack boots and swastikas is a distant memory. On the surface, the contemporary Vienna is prosperous, peaceful and civilized.
But there is another Vienna percolating beneath the surface, a dark presence that has the potential to undo the tranquility Austrians have come to accept as the norm. This is the Austrian version ofbanlieus, the areas populated by Muslims, mostly Turkish. In these areas, crime is on the rise, resentment is palpable and buildings are marred with graffiti.
Most significantly, the average person refuses to recognize the potential problem these communities represent. If one points out the dangers, the specter of Islamophobia or racism is raised as a chilling censor, and defenders of Enlightenment ideas, such as individual rights, property rights and the rule of law are castigated as right wing fanatics when they insist on applying these principles to Muslim minorities.
So preoccupied are establishment figures with maintaining this Austrian version of tranquility that they prefer to look away and criticize the people upholding democratic ideals. It is obvious, or should be obvious, that Sharia Law is inconsistent with Enlightenment ideas. But when it comes to peace versus principle, authorities opt for the former, fearful that any other stance will exacerbate public attitudes.
As a consequence, official state numbers suggest the Islamic population in Austria has remained stable at 500,000 over the last decade, even through the birth rate among Muslims is more than twice the replacement level of 2.1. Far better to deceive the public at large than alarm it.
The same condition prevails with the crime rate. As crime statistics are not broken down by race or ethnicity, the average person may discern a disproportionate crime rate among Muslims, but it is not part of the public record.
When Elisabeth Sabaditch-Wolf, a resident of Vienna, spoke out against Muslim practices that threaten democracy, she was labeled a right wing fanatic and is currently facing prosecution for public incitement. Rather than honor her for defending civilizational principles, she has been marginalized as an extremist by Austrian authorities. These prosecutions – even if unsuccessful – have a chilling influence on free speech and open debate.
It is remarkable that Sharia Law has won a psychological victory as it cannot be challenged without judicial investigation. Yet Sharia, in essence, cannot tolerate apostasy. Apostates, according to Koranic principles, must either convert, submit or die. This is a direct contradiction of democratic ideals and a violation of liberal religious practices established over centuries of bloodletting. Now, without a shot being fired, the Austrians have seemingly conceded. All it took was the possibly of violence and the pervasive ambience of intimidation.
One gets the impression that a nation that has grown to love freedom and prosperity has grown complacent. And with this complacency, Austrians will engage in almost any arabesque of rationalization to maintain tranquility. Without fully realizing it, this strategy is leading to the very totalitarianism it fought so hard to avoid during the Cold War. Sharia Law disavows secular prescriptions, but in its political agenda it is intent on transforming Western institutions. Signs of this goal are already evident in Austria today.