Wien, 24. August 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: "Intensify dialogue with the Islamic Religious Community"

Spindelegger meets Fuat Sanac, the President of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria (IGGiÖ)

Vienna, 24 August 2011 – Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger met in the Foreign Ministry this afternoon with the new President of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, Fuat Sanac, who was elected to the office in June this year. During the meeting, Spindelegger underlines the significance Austria attaches to the historically grown relations with the Islamic Religious Community.

The election of Fuat Sanac at the helm of the IGGiÖ brings great expectations, said Spindelegger, mentioning for instance the "specific development of Islam in Europe and its compatibility with the European model of life". "We must seize the opportunity of the upcoming anniversary year to further intensify our dialogue and deal with the threats from populism and marginalisation, which we must encounter together with determination“, said the Foreign Minister, referring to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the legal recognition of Islam in Austria in 2012. Spindelegger added: "Freedom of religion is a central achievement that brings with it not only rights, which we defend worldwide, but also responsibility. The responsibility emanating from freedom of religion and conscience consists in engaging oneself in favour of democratic, pluralist societies which protect human and fundamental rights as well as the equality between women and men."

"Austria can build upon a long and proven tradition of dialogue with Islam. We shall continue to advance this tradition in the future through specific cooperation programmes with the Islamic Religious Community", concluded Spindelegger. Additionally Spindelegger pointed out projects initiated or supported by the Foreign Ministry, such as further training courses for Imams and Pastors to become "integration pilots", the expansion of graduate and post-graduate courses on issues of Islam and Muslims in Europe, or the strengthening of participation of Islamic associations through representatives for dialogue and women's rights.

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