Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Got Yer Freedom of Religion Right Here!

I have cousins in Austria, whom I might blog about in a future post. Thus, I was saddened to learn that one of Austria's provinices is governed by a far-right party that wants to ban the construction of mosques:
The provincial parliament in the southern Austrian province Carinthia called on its provincial government to prepare legislation banning the construction of mosques or minarets. The province's governor, the populist former leader of the rightist Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, had repeatedly called for anti- Muslim measures along those lines.

The proposal was adopted with the votes of the conservative People's Party, Freedom Party, and the support of the Alliance for Austria's Future, an equally rightist breakaway party from the Freedom Party, founded by Haider.

Alliance floor leader Kurt Scheuch said his party wanted to prevent the creeping Islamization by radical forces.

"We prefer churchbells to the muezzin's chants," he said.
So much for secularism. The government of Austria displays a clear and unabashed religious preference, and wants to use state power to enforce that preference. And as for that line about "prevent(ing) the creeping Islamization by radical forces," well, I'd like to prevent abortion doctors for being murdered by terrorists and gays from being hunted down and beaten to a fine paste by rednecks, but I'd be an idiot if I thought preventing the construction of churches was the answer to that.

The article, in clear contradiction of Scheuch's quote, goes on to say:
While the conservatives stressed that it was not their intention to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion, they argued that a mosque could not be compared with a Christian church, but was rather an "institution of a cultural community."
I see, so a mosque is an "institution of a cultural community," which distinguishes it from a church. . . how? Oh, that's right: the Church is the institution of the dominant culture-- or at least, what the dominant culture used to be in Europe, before the Europeans began avoiding chruches in droves.
Carinthia's Social Democrats and Greens, who had voted against the measure, slammed the proposal as a move to "prevent integration (and) hinder religious freedom" and called it an "open attack on democracy and the rule of law."

The Social Democrats pointed out that currently there were no plans for for building mosques in the province, unmasking the proposal as an attempt to "attract the right-wing vote," Social Democrat floor leader Peter Kaiser said.
Yup, pretty much sums it up. At least Haider isn't ruling all of Austria anymore.

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