The response of the University of Vienna to the open letter of the Institute For The Research of Genocide Canada (IGC) or better to say the supercilious lack of a response is not coming out of the blue but out of institutionalized Islamophobia. It is based in Islamophobia so pervasive, it is not even recognized as racism. The University of Vienna has no Islamophobia professorship at all, but it does have a history of genocide-denying professors on its payroll.
Taras Borodajkewycz was a racist, genocide denier and UV history professor until 1971. In 1960s the Deans Office was aware of his antisemitism and genocide denial because students repeatedly reported it.
He was not removed for as long as he publicly denied being a genocide denier. The fact that this previous professor, in order to keep his job, had to publicly lie in order to remain in the same official position now held by Prof. Manoschek, who does not even have to lie to hide his positions, is troubling. It reflects the overall arrogant attitude toward one particular religious group in Austria.
Prof. Manoschek doesn’t have to bother to lie nor does the University of Vienna have to bother to answer serious questions about having a genocide denying Professor on their payroll. Where is this arrogance coming from? To understand what is going on in Austria we have to step back a couple years.
In 2015 the discriminatory Austrian Islam Law was passed. This law applies only to Muslims and forbids financing of their religious institution from abroad. If you are a Buddhist you can finance your temple from abroad but if you are a Muslim then you can not.
Burqa Ban – a law targeting only one religious group. It criminalizes Muslim women. Officially it is called a ban on full-face veils in public places and it prohibits all forms of veils. However, Clowns got distressed and protested and got a waiver. Clowns have more rights in Austria than Muslim women.
Islam Map, originally a project of the University of Vienna, is an online project mapping religious institutions literally putting a target on them: “Muslim groups in Austria fear attacks after government publishes map of mosques”
Almost a year ago the Council of Europe called upon Austria to withdraw the controversial ‘Islam map’.
“Publication of the map is hostile to Muslims and potentially counterproductive, the top European human rights body said in a statement.”
Austrian Government showed the same arrogance towards the Council of Europe as the University of Vienna is showing towards victims of the Bosnian Genocide. They did not bother to remove the map. The map is still online.
“Political Islam” construct is a new made up term grounded in the conspiracy theory of Muslim Brotherhood taking over the control of government by legal means. What is ‘Political Islam’? Is there Political Buddhisms perhaps in Austria too? No, there is only ‘Political Islam’. This term was constructed recently and is not clearly defined. It is not defined on purpose because it leaves the space for arbitrary decisions by the Austrian authorities.
An organization called the Documentation Center Political Islam was established in July 2020 and is funded by the taxpayers. Its goal is to monitor and warn against so called ‘Political Islam’ which literally resulted in shields warning “Attention Political Islam in your proximity” being placed in vicinity of mosques. Source: Achtung!: Austria puts signs across country warning of ‘political Islam’
Islamophobia is defined by the United Nations as a form of racism. However, in Austria it is treated by the government as a battle cry of ‘Political Islam’. Sebastian Kurz Ex-Chancellor said after the terrorist attack in Vienna:
“In the fight against political Islam – the ideological basis behind it – we are going to create a criminal offense called ‘political Islam’ in order to be able to move against those who aren’t terrorists but are preparing the ground for it,”
We are talking here about preventive arrests of Muslims that dare to be political. Because they can not be accused of crime at all by any legal standard, the Austrian government made up a new term to criminalize members of one of the world’s religions. Sounds familiar? Yes. However, when one makes comparison with the Nazi regime and present regime in Austria one gets automatic response that one is trivializing the Nazi crimes by comparing present action with that of Nazis.
This is exactly what happened to Armin Wolf famous journalist on Austrian public television when he compared the caricatures of Muslims to that of the Jews in the Nazi time. There was a public outcry in Austria not because of racist caricatures but because he dared to compare them to the Nazis.
Primary school headscarf ban was a law banning headscarves because the Austrian government interpreted them as sign of ‘Political Islam’ The law was overturned by the constitutional court for being discriminatory against Muslims. It remains a mystery how the Islam Law of 2015 is not discriminatory.
Operation Luxor happened on the 9th November 2020, ironically the date of Kristallnacht. It was the largest peacetime police operation in Austrian history and it was planned one and half years ahead. It occurred a week after a terrorist attack in Vienna. The Slovak authorities informed Austrian police about the attacker in advance, which Austrians had even on their own watch list.
The illegal police raid targeted prominent Muslims under the guise of fighting ‘Political Islam’. Police even raided the home of University Professor Farid Hafez who is researching Islamophobia and was visiting professor at GeorgetownUniversity in Washington. Remember in Austria the term Islamophobia is a Battle Cry of ‘Political Islam’ and it doesn’t matter that the term is defined by the United Nations. Although the raid was found to be illegal, there were no consequences nor a public outcry in Austrian media to the illegal police raid targeting members of only one religion.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) stated that the public discourse in Austria has become “increasingly xenophobic” Austria’s rising Islamophobia worries EU experts Out of all this we can see a very disturbing development of which the official response of the University of Vienna is a final insult: Conspiracy theory as basis for criminalization of Muslims, dehumanization Muslims through infantilization, and genocide denial as a preparation of a new genocide.
The construct of ‘Political Islam’ and export of Islamophobia from Austria to Bosnia can be traced in Milorad Dodik’s usage of the term ‘Political Sarajevo’. The purpose of this vocabulary is the same: dehumanization of Muslims through infantilization, as if Sarajevo is not mature enough to be political. The official response of the University of Vienna does the same: dehumanization through infantilization. The arrogant treatment of Bosniaks by the University of Vienna shows what all Muslims worldwide can expect: infantilization at first, police raids at home, if they dare to research Islamophobia, as second, genocide – if they dare to be political as Bosniaks did – and finally genocide denial formulated as Catch22 by University of Vienna – as a final insult to intelligence and to the victims of Bosnian Genocide.
We have to remember the great James Baldwin:
“I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”