The following article from an Austrian monthly is a typical leftist hit-piece on those dreaded “Islamophobes”. Regular readers will recognize some of the people quoted or mentioned in the article, notably Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff and Fjordman. Elisabeth agreed to be interviewed for the piece, while other activists declined to talk to an outlet they feared would distort their words.
However, Elisabeth and Christian Zeitz (of Mission Europa Netzwerk Karl Martell) were at least quoted at length and in fair context, which is unusual for a leftist media organ.
Elisabeth sends this note about the treatment she received:
The translation of the article (which was only in the print edition of DATUM) is below:
Back in July, I was interviewed for DATUM, a liberal left-wing monthly magazine. I was initially hesitant about this interview, given what I know about the attitude of leftists concerning criticism of Islam (rather than bashing Muslims, which we are often accused of). However, I was convinced by colleagues and friends, some of whom are knowledgeable about the media in Austria, to take the risk. The result is the lengthy story found below, which has been masterfully translated by JLH.
The article itself contains the usual bashing by the usual “experts” of me, Christian Zeitz, and Fjordman. Nevertheless, it could have been worse. And we should not forget that it is not those in the know who need to be convinced, but those who are still unconvinced, despite reading what is found in the media every day.
Make up your own minds!
Knights of the Net
A year ago, Anders Behring Breivik walked out of his house to save the Western World. While the Norwegian is in prison, Islam is still being battled in Austria.
At the beginning of May in Graz, persons unknown laid six half pig heads on the construction site of an Islamic cultural center and sprayed a prayer tent set up there with pig blood. In the summer of the previous year, it was a pig’s head in front of a mosque in the Vorarlberg town of Reuthe, a swastika scrawled on the door and the next night, windows broken in. Six months earlier in Kufstein, unknown persons attempted to set fire to a Turkish cultural center, where an imam was sleeping. In Wiener Neustadt, a pensioner keeps a pig in his garden so he can regularly lead it on a leash past a mosque. And one day in February 2009 there appeared on the wall of the former concentration camp, Mauthausen in Upper Austria: “What the Jew was for our fathers, the Muslim spawn is for us. Be vigilant! 3rd World War — 8th Crusade.”
“I do not believe that such actions can accomplish anything. I do not sympathize with them at all,” says Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
“But we must also see that citizens do not know what to do for themselves, because the state is doing nothing and is actually furthering mass immigration. Talk to people who live near mosques. Listen to what they have to put up with.”
It is early morning in the Eighth District. Sabaditsch-Wolff is sitting behind an inconspicuous house door in the midst of a grey row of houses. Behind her an empty room with a few plain tables, upholstered armchairs, coffee, water faucet. Outside, grey clouds cover the sky; inside, thick walls cool the air.
Overnight, this Geneva-born Austrian has become a Jeanne d’Arc of Islam-opponents. In February, she was sentenced to a fine of €480. The offense: Denigration of religious doctrine. “One of the biggest problems we have today is that the foremost commandment for a Muslim male is to live exactly as did Mohammed. And he liked to get it on with children,” is the quote from the 41-year-old in the magazine News, from a public lecture in the FPÖ educational series, which was attended by a journalist. “That was one of the worst days of my life. Why am I not allowed to speak my own opinion in my own country?” Sabaditsch-Wolff says about the verdict. At the same time, nothing better could have happened to bring her cause into the world at large. Today, she gives interviews to American TV stations, her name turns up on Islam-hostile blogs, she has her own website. One of her supporters: a former chief editor of the Presse and the Wiener-Zeitung. Andreas Unterberger, who is also active nowadays as a Catholic blogger.
They say that they are not racists. Not agitators, not like anti-Semites, they have nothing to do with right extremism. They depend on a group of authors who have established themselves in the bestseller lists: Thilo Sarrazin, Henryk M. Broder, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Anyone who believes in the Koran has for years been under their suspicious scrutiny, is the recipient of insulting comments and open hatred. They write blogs or books, push for laws at the edge of constitutionality and are tying a net over all of Europe, united in the feeling that Islam is alien and dangerous, does not belong here, must be gone. And they are in the middle of society.
“For me, Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology,” says Christian Zeitz. In the 1990’s. this academician and management consultant was a provincial executive of the Viennese ÖVP. For several years after that, he was a local chairman of the Viennese Akademikerbund — formerly an ÖVP affiliated organization. Two years ago, it split from the umbrella organization. For five years, it has been host to Mission Europa, Netzwerk Karl Martell — named for the Frankish king who won one of the first battles against an Arab army in the 700s. The organization’s logo supplies the knight with helmet, shield and forward-tilted lance, seated on a galloping horse. Target, Islam.
In the last Austrian census in 2001, there were 340,000 Muslims. Today the number is estimated to be 400,000 to 500,000 — a twentieth of the population. That is a little more than the number of Protestants. Twice as many Austrians have no religion. More than ten times as many are Catholics. Yet nonetheless, a vehement community of opinion has taken the field of battle against only one of the 14 recognized religions.
There is a close-knit group of blogs which link mutually. They know each other, demonstrate together, give speeches for each other. There is a long list of organizations in virtually every Western European country: English Defence League, Pro-NRW, Pro-Köln, Stop Islamization of Nations, Stop Islamization of Europe, Die Freiheit, ACT! for America. One German organization is named for the battle-cry of the first Crusaders: Deus Vult Caritatem. God wants love. Another German group, Pax Europa, founded a subsidiary in Austria in the middle of April. Next to Netzwerk Karl Martell it is now the second organization in the country to dedicate itself to the battle against Islam.
Karl Martell chief Christian Zeitz. has read the Koran many times. The result: Islam is incurable. It radiates a spirit that moves people to do bad things. “You must understand that the Koran for them is the direct word of God.” says the 53-year-old Catholic, who considers Christianity to be the superior religion. As early as seven years ago, he sent out a press release with the title : “Islam — Unintegratable.” In it, he demanded the “immediate cessation of granting citizenship or residency permission to foreigners with Islamic religious allegiance,” as soon as the Muslim percentage of the population passed 9.5 per cent. It is not the percentage number that is important, says Zeitz. The idea is: as few as possible. There is simply no difference between political and religious Islam. “Its spirit and the bases of its belief are always the same,” he says. This always develops differently, he says, on different breeding grounds. For instance, in Turkey, in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia. “There may be liberal Muslims, but there is no liberal Islam. If someone believes that it is possible to achieve a ‘modernization of Islam’ then there is no solution.” Therefore, it would be greatly appreciated if it stays where it is.
When Rüdiger Lohlker hears this kind of thing, he pauses. “Most statements by Islam opponents are so unsophisticated that it is better not to debate about them,” says the German Islam scholar, who is presently teaching at the University of Vienna. He is reminded of the 19th century, when there was discussion about the construction of synagogues and whether it was allowable to preach there in Hebrew. “There are structural parallels between hostility to Islam and anti-Semitism,” says Lohlker. “The Jews have also tried for a long time to show that there is nothing to the legend of ritual murder. They have not succeeded.” Islam opponents, he says, are possessed. They are the only ones who interpret the Koran as strictly as Osama bin Laden and the Salafist fundamentalists. He personally has given up discussing with them. Although he considers them quite dangerous. Years ago, a panel discussion of his colleague, Mathias Rohe, had to be broken off, because followers of Deus Vult Caritatem stormed the hall. For a short while, the Islam scholar received death threats. This or that e-mail also landed in Lohlker’s mailbox: “Careful when you walk out your door,” one read. At the time, Lohlker did not even bother to involve the state — to report it to the police.
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff is not impressed by threats. On the contrary, she herself feels threatened. That was made clear to her initially by a book It was called “Gabriel’s Suggestions.” and was written by the Hindu, Jaya Gopal. “From purely Islamic sources,” she says, “twice consecutively.” After his words, the scales fell from my eyes. Before that, it had been just a feeling. The daughter of a diplomat had spent many years in Arab countries. She was in Tehran when the Iranian revolution broke out at the end of the 1970s and instead of wearing their hair free, women had to wear the veil. When she was working in the embassy in Kuwait, she thought the first Ramadan was amusing, the second odd, the third nerve-wracking. She wondered why no one was supposed to talk about the fact that Mohammed had married a child. She had never thought that there was something basically wrong with Islam — not when she worked as a ski instructor or in the 1990s as a staff member in the cabinet of the foreign minister Wolfgang Schüssel (ÖVP), a friend of her father. Today, she takes care of her daughter and has become an independent English tutor.
It is the story of a staunch Catholic, an academic, someone from the middle of society. She has read the Koran from front to back and found it wanting. The story of a woman who chooses strong words, but knows privately that the majority of Austrians are with her. According to a study on values by the Institute for Market and Social Analysis in 2010, 71% of Austrians do not consider Islam to be compatible with democracy, tolerance and freedom. 54% perceive it as a threat to their own lifestyle.
It has been a year since the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik — anti-Islamic mottoes in his head — drove away from his farmstead into the capital, Oslo, triggered a bomb in the government district and, two hours later on the island of Utøya began shooting at those attending a Social Democrat party gathering. Ultimately, 77 people were dead and 151 wounded. Breivik calls himself a Christian. He thinks he is a Templar who must protect Europe from Islam. He wrote all that in a 1,500 page manifesto that he called “2083. A European Declaration of Independence” — a reference to the end of the second Turkish siege of Vienna 400 years ago. It is a text full of passages from Islam-hostile blogs and books. Breivik cites virtually all the European rightist parties, including the FPÖ, and Austria is cited most next to Norway. A country and its population as symbol of the battle against the Islamization of the West?
“It is still difficult for Austrians to distinguish between the religion of Islam and those people who carry out certain crimes in the name of Islam,” says the political scientist Farid Hafez, who teaches at the University of Vienna and has for three years been publishing his own “Yearbook of Islamophobia” in Austria. “As yet, Breivik is an isolated case, but he was radicalized in a climate which in recent years has moved more and more from the edge of society to the middle.” Not everyone immediately takes a weapon in hand and plans an attack years ahead. Although Hafez would not be surprised if someone does it again. He is irritated that there are weeks of discussion in Germany when the president says that Islam belongs in Germany. He cannot understand why no women moderators may have head shawls if they wish. And that schoolchildren know the word ‘Islamization” before they understand what it means.
According to a report by the organization Civil Courage and Anti-Racism Task Force (ZARA), 6 % of all cases of discrimination reported in Austria in the last year are directed at Muslims. These figures, however, do not mean much, because, to enter an incident in the report, a person must first of all know of the organization and take the trouble to write or call. “We suspect that many attacks are not documented,” says Karim Saad about the document archive on Islamophobia, which is five years old and works with ZARA. “People are ashamed of or accustomed to someone making derogatory remarks about a head scarf or making a gesture indicative of shooting.”
Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff shows herself unimpressed by this. People are too correct nowadays, she says. But you have to defend yourself when something happens that you do not wish. Violence, insults, greasing palms — all that repulses her. “Anyone who is concerned with the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith — i.e., Islam — knows that Mohammed was a murderer and rapist,” she says. “The Koran is Allah’s master plan for the conquest and subjugation of the whole world,” She is fighting for the well-being of future generations. “Adolf Hitler also described his intentions in Mein Kampf. I do not want my daughter to ask me sometime, ‘Didn’t you see that? Didn’t you read what was going to happen?’” She writes this now and then in her blog posts. Some of her comments — written for the Islam-hostile blog, “Gates of Vienna” — turn up in Breivik’s manifesto.
What do you think when a mass murderer quotes you? “Naturally, I thought about that and understood immediately that this vile deed by a psychopath would be used to strongly attack Islam critics like me,” says Sabaditsch-Wolff. “But I was and am not prepared to stop my very important work.” You could just as easily question Winston Churchill, since Breivik quoted him too, she says. The same attitude of denial could be found in activists and politicians after the Breivik attacks: Nothing to do with us; Breivik is not a real Christian — what could we do? Only a few Islam-critical bloggers pulled back for a few months, like the popular Norwegian anti-Islamist, Peter Jensen. Others filled the breach: two journalists, the German Markus Kleine-Hartlege and the Austrian Martin Lichtmesz, published the collected texts of Jensen — who had blogged as “Fjordman,” in a book, Defend Europe.
“When Islamist fundamentalists carry out an attack. we talk for weeks about Islam,” says Herbert Schiedel of the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance (DÖW). “In the case of Breivik, the discussion quickly went silent. There was more concentration on his psyche than on the ideology from which it was developed.” Two days before Breivik shot up Utøya, Schiedel copy-read his book Extreme Rightists in Europe, for which he analyzed, among other things, texts of the FPÖ. “It was to some extent not possible to distinguish whether the statements were from Breivik or from rightist politicians,” says Schiedel. Something happened secretly: In the days after the massacre, according to Schiedl, several texts disappeared from the Islam-hostile blogs.
Schiedel is convinced of one thing — that a similar attack can happen again. In Germany, those who despise the Koran are being surveilled by the state. At the beginning of the year, the German security services announced that they intend to examine the environment of the Islam-hostile website “Politically Incorrect.” Because little is known of the people behind it. By their own testimony, as many as 50,000 people daily visit the site. Under the rubric, “Groups” there are also three e-mail addresses of Austrian “Politically Incorrect” groups. Up to the publication date for this article an inquiry has not been answered. The proprietors of what is by their own testimony the largest domestic anti-Islamic blog. SOS Österreich are also reluctant to enter into a personal conversation: “We will be happy to answer your questions per e-mail. We have no time for a personal interview in the next 7-8 weeks,” is the statement. Another mail with a request for a personal meeting is unanswered.
And the membership of the Network Karl Martell is also not intended to be seen in the newspaper. “Our members are just as reluctant to have their names mentioned as are the politicians and business people who are constantly speaking with us,” says the head of the organization, Christian Zeitz. “Unfortunately, when you express your opinion, you are met with public hostility.” Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, too, feels persecuted since she has been in the limelight. She has no evidence for this. She is also silent about the participants and places of meeting of the counter-jihad conferences she has attended.
The words “Islamophobe” and “Islamophobia” first appeared in the yearly reports of the Austrian Office for Protection of the Constitution and Combatting of Terrorism (BVT); and since then, the security service has observed the scene. “Through international conferences, we have become aware of the rise of Islam-hostile actions, Europe-wide,” says a source in the BVT, who does not wish to be named. “At the moment, seen from an international perspective, Austria is an isle of the blessed.” The BVT has classified only eight attacks in 2009 as Islamophobia. The next year, it was none and last year it was four. “But we expect more to come in the next years,” says the source. “Hostility to Islam has already replaced anti-Semitism as the primary propaganda and recruitment theme among neo-Nazis.” 90% of the Islam-hostile attacks reported to BVT, at any rate, were not by known repeat offenders of the right-extremist scene, but ordinary citizens. “We note that this problem is society-wide and an Islam-hostile mindset has spread into the midst of society,” says the BVT analyst.
“There were Islamophobic comments in every party,” says political scientist Farid Hafez, “but in recent years, the FPÖ has taken a leading role.” Since the murder of the Dutch Islam critic Theo van Gogh and the terror attacks on the Madrid railroad in 2004, the party has targeted Islam. So “Pummerin” [a bell in St. Stephen’s] is rhymed with muezzin and “Western land in Christian hand” is demanded. In the Vienna election of 2005, minarets rose toward heaven behind a picture of Mayor Michael Häuptl. In the Graz election of 2008, member of parliament Susanne Winter gave a speech, for which she was later convicted of derogation of religious doctrine. On an FPÖ website, a game appeared in which mosques and minarets could be shot. And when a citizen initiative was protesting against the building of a mosque in Vienna’s Birkenau district, FPÖ head Heinz-Christian Strache stepped to the podium holding a wooden cross. This kind of thinking has now trickled into the other parties, Hafez says. In the process of a referendum on banning construction of mosques and minarets in Carinthia and Vorarlberg, the ÖVP adopted 80% of the FPÖ’s comments on Islam, and the SPÖ could think of no answer to the hostility to Islam. Even among the consistently anti-racist Greens, there was one representative who said some Islamophobic things, says Hafez. “Imagine if politicians would talk about Jews the way people speak about Muslims. Anti-Semitism is taboo, but anything goes for Islam.”
Sometimes it is more than just talking. In Vorarlberg and Carinthia, FPÖ and ÖVP came together — by way of the law governing maintenance of the townscape — to forbid building minarets. “In Carinthia, the breach of the constitution seems clearer to me than in Vorarlberg,” says legal philosopher Richard Potz of the University of Vienna. As also demands for German-speaking preachers in mosques would violate the constitutional principle of religious freedom. When Potz is addressed on the many points [advanced by] Islamic opponents, he responds to most of them, “Nonsense.” It is neither true that sharia is above domestic law, nor that the law against derogation of religious doctrine applies only to Islam. “The few Austrian incidents in the past 30 years have concerned Christianity almost exclusively.” Furthermore, Islam has been recognized by the state since 1912. And that, too, will not change, says Potz. “Such a demand would be neither politically opportune nor legally viable.”