Farid Hafez

Political Scientist, Visiting Professor of International Studies at Williams College, Senior Fellow at Bridge Initiative/Georgetown University

A Postcolonial Analysis of Austria’s Political Approach to Islam

This essay examines Austria’s political approaches to Islam between 2011 and 2022 at the interface of political science and religious policy as informed by postcolonial studies. Austrian political approaches to Islam are analyzed through the study of publications, press releases, government and party programmes, as well as laws, all conceptualized as an Islam dispositif. Against the backdrop of a restrictive policy on integration, it is considered that a similar situation exists for political approaches to Islam. In addition to an ambivalence of ideas of openness and restriction, the co-option of right-wing positions taken from the racist far right can be observed, which goes hand in hand with seemingly tolerant speech. The essay shows how on a discoursive level, the civilization and modernization theorem of the Habsburg Monarchy can today be found in the discourse of an Austrian/European form of Islam that stands for progress, enlightenment, and modernity in contrast to adherents of an alleged “political Islam” that represents independent Muslim agency. This idea of “political Islam” is then used to legitimize legal discrimination of Muslims. In all these discourses, Said’s concept of othering acts as a central formation for those in dominant positions to legitimate their position of power. Read full article in ‘Interventions – International Journal of Postcolonial Studies’