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Religion: Persons belonging to minorities face legal and practical obstacles in exercising or manifesting their religion or belief?

Key Area:
Public Life, Culture, Sport & Media
Discrimination, Equality
22/12/2011 - 13:32
Short Answer

There are no legal restrictions in regard to freedom of assembly. However there is a hostile political discourse on Muslims which may infringe the religious rights of persons of Muslim faith.

Qualitative Info

There are no legal restrictions in regard to freedom of assembly of religious minorities. However, evidence that freedom of religion is not respected, exists – in particular with regard to the right of Muslims to manifest their religion or belief and to establish religious institutions, organisations and associations. In this regard we refer to the amendments to the construction laws in Vorarlberg and Carinthia which aim at restricting the construction of mosques and minarets. There are also numerous citizens’ groups in Vienna which mobilise against the construction of mosques or Islamic cultural centres; they enjoy particular support by the leader of the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs (FPÖ) [Austrian Freedom Party], H.C. Strache.  In the city of Bad Vöslau in Lower Austria – after long-lasting negotiations – a mosque with minarets was opened in 2009.  In the municipal elections in March 2010, the mayor of Bad Vöslau and his ‘Bürgerliste Flammer’ lost ten per cent of the votes and four seats in the municipal council – this loss exactly equalled the percentage of votes gained by the local FPÖ (who supported the opponents of the mosque).

Following the debates in France and Belgium, discussions with regard to the prohibition of the burka came up in spring 2010. It was initiated by the State Secretary for Family Affairs (Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) [People’s Party]) and was supported by the Minister of the Interior (ÖVP) as well as the Minister for Women (Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs (SPÖ) [Social Democrats]).  The Islamic Faith Community criticised the proposal arguing that there would be no need for such a prohibition since there were no women wearing the burka in Austria and a prohibition would not necessarily protect women concerned from suppression.  FPÖ officials continued to reiterate the need to prohibit the burka. The prejudiced atmosphere against Muslims is mirrored in a survey commissioned by the weekly journal profil which reveals that 52 per cent of the Austrians consider Muslims to be less tolerant than members of other faith communities.


Groups affected/interested Religious minorities
Type (R/D)
Key socio-economic / Institutional Areas Religion
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