German Translators to be Busy if New Bill is Passed on Muslim Texts in Austria

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Yet another European country seems braced to extend its laws aimed at stemming the perceived danger of Muslim extremism and jihadi-inspired terrorism. The Austrian Conservative-led Government has released a bill which will enforce standardized versions of Muslim texts and even the Koran in addition to introducing other measures which will make it difficult for Muslim extremists to be employed as teachers in the country.

The idea behind the bill, which is yet to be confirmed as law in Austria, is that the fact that there are many different versions of Koranic texts and Muslim literature that it is easier for extremists to interpret the religion to their advantage. It would mean that German translators would have to use a standardised German translation of key texts for all Muslim documents to be made available in future if the bill is passed.

It is the first major shift in the way the status of Austrian Muslims has been addressed since 1912. One of the two major Muslim organizations in Austria has already signaled its concern that the change in legislation will send a signal to the wider community in Austria that the Muslim population is not to be trusted.

The bill, in addition to standardizing German translations, will also seek to prohibit funding of Muslim organizations from outside the country and also prohibit teachers employed by an organization based in another country from working in Austria.

The move comes in a country where the relationship between the Muslim minority (around 6% of the Austrian population) and the Roman Catholic majority have been relatively unproblematic. Austria has not seen the sort of attempts to regulate the way Muslims in the country practice their faith, like the banning of the veil, for instance, in France.

The Austrian foreign minister said that it was in the interest of Austrian Muslims to ensure that German translations of their texts eliminated any misinterpretation of their true meaning and guaranteed that there was no distinction between being a “good Muslim” and a “proud Austrian”.