Farid Hafez

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

“Political Islam” in the Austrian Debate

As part of the book ‘Development, Globalization, Global Values, and Security,’ essays in honor of political scientist Arno Tausch, in this article, I review a discussion in the daily Die Presse on “political Islam” in Austria, in which I and Arno Tausch were involved. Discussing the main arguments of both camps that were involved, I try to answer the question, of how a reasonable discussion on “political Islam” can take place in a context, where the notion of “political Islam” has been mobilized by the governing New Austrian People’s Party led by Sebastian Kurz to serve anti-Muslim racism. By drawing on the example of the Islamic Federations in Austria, which traces its roots back to Necmettin Erbakan, the founding father of political Islam in Turkey, Hafez discusses two different approaches to how this religious movement is currently assessed in terms of its origins. The author argues that a critique of racism is ultimately a critique of power structures and since Muslims in powerful positions are part and parcel of these structures, aiming to defend their privileges, a critique of anti-Muslim racism can and even must go hand in hand with a critique of these political structures. You can read the article here