Austria Muslims to Open Mosque Doors to Public

VIENNA – A leading Austrian Islamic group has announced plans to open doors of mosques and prayer spaces to public during Friday prayer, to strengthen their youth outreach and education problem.

“Terrorists are abusing the religion,” Ibrahim Olgun, the president of Austria’s Islamic Faith Community (IGGiÖ), told The Local on Monday, January 9.

“We are certain amongst ourselves that there is no justification for such terror, [but] it is outwardly that we must more clearly communicate this.”

Olgun stated that a portion of the country’s 350 prayer spaces will be open to the public during Friday prayers.

The 28-year old Muslim stressed that he wants to show more transparency to the greater Austrian population.

This would normally only be on the agenda for the upcoming Day of Open Mosques, however now it will be made a more regular occurrence.

Along with welcoming the Austrian public into mosques, Olgun said they are working on a goal to convince Austrian imams to deliver their sermons in German, or to at least have them simultaneously translated.

Moreover, he wanted to strengthen their youth outreach and education programs.

According the statements he made in his interview with Kurier, the organization is currently in the process of creating a rubric for Muslim enterprises, such as kindergartens, to follow.

These efforts aim at building solidarity in the community against terrorism.

“We also expect representatives of other religions to make more nuanced assessments and to avoid simply pigeon-holing Muslims as scapegoats,” Olgun said.

“They shouldn’t fall into the trap set by these terrorists, whose goal it is to divide society.”

Austrian Muslims are estimated at about nearly 6 percent of the European country’s 8 million population.

In Vienna, Islam is the second-largest religious grouping, after Roman Catholicism.