Last Updated on August 17, 2021
Islam is the second largest religion in Austria, and is followed by 8 percent of the total population, according to 2016 estimates issued by the Austrian Council of Sciences. It should be noted that large numbers of Muslims lived under Austrian rule when Austria- Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, where Islam was recognized as an official religion since 1912.
Total population: 6.9 million
Muslim population ( 2016): 600, 000
Significant numbers of Muslims moved to Austria during the 1960s as migrant workers from Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Islamic Religious Authority of Austria is the official representative of Muslims and serves as an institutional framework for more than 250 Islamic societies.
Regarding well-known Muslim figures, Austrian politician Muna Duzdar is the first Muslim citizen to hold a position in the Austrian federal government between 2016 and 2017.
In May 2019, the Austrian parliament passed a ban on headscarves (hijab) for children in primary school. According to appendices explaining the law, some federal states impose fines of up to 440 euros ($ 490) on parents of children who violate the ban. NGOs have criticized the ban, which excludes the Jewish and Sikh minorities, and explicitly targets the Muslim community. However, authorities continued to allow headscarves for religious purposes on official identification documents, provided the face remains visible enough to allow identification of the person wearing them.
During the term of the former ruling coalition, led by the People’ s Party and its partner, the far right Freedom Party, fears have resurfaced again among Muslims in Austria about the government’s hardline stance against Muslims. The ruling coalition defended the ban on the headscarf in primary schools for Muslims, except for other religious minorities.
2020, the new government, led by the People’ s Party alongside the Green Party, has continued the same policy, as the two sides pledged to ban headscarves in schools until the age of fourteen. These actions are part of what conservative leader Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz describes as his hardline stance on ” political Islam”, which aims to appeal to his voter base but also to the supporters of the extreme right, who were frustrated with his alliance with the Freedom Party in May 2019. 4