A Comparative Analyses of Islam in Spain and Austria: Similarities, Differences and Problems resulting from a Single-Catch-All Policy
Presentation at: 17th Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR) ; Tartu ; 25.6.2019 - 29.6.2019 ; In 1992, almost 80 years later than Austria, Islam has been officially recognized by the Spanish state. Although originating in different social, political and historical contexts, these recognitions have been perceived as great achievements for the respective Muslim communities. Nevertheless, these accommodative policy instruments do not yet address fully the needs of Muslim communities, neither in Spain, nor in Austria. The promotion and establishment of a single catch-all Sunni dominated Muslim representation organization ignores the diversity in dogma and religious practices of the Muslim communities present in both countries. Since hierarchical organizational structures are alien to Islam, European States such as Spain and Austria used the model of the catholic faith/church, when having to accommodate Muslim communities. Consequently, these communities are required to set up hierarchical structures, to some extend contravening their religious doctrines. As a result, communities are split, smaller ones marginalized and leadership claims challenged. This article seeks to compare in a first step accommodation policies for Muslim communities in Spain and Austria and secondly to identify not only similarities and differences of these policies but also leadership structures and related challenges. Drawing on the situation in Austria, with historically bigger experience in Muslim accommodation, the article concludes with the need to revise the single-catch-all policy (both in Spain and in Austria) and address the plurality of claims of the diverse Muslim community.