With the new anti-terrorism law, adopted on July 8th in Parliament, Austria becomes the first European country to ban the symbol of the Muslim brotherhood founded almost a century ago by the Egyptian Hassan al-Banna. ( Panorama.it)

Translated by Carol Simonetti

Austria has adopted a new anti-terrorism law that allows the authorities to have greater powers in the field of surveillance and control of extremist circles. Among the decisions taken by the government of Vienna, there is the inclusion of the symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood in the list of “extremist groups linked to religiously motivated crimes”. The name of the brotherhood is thus added to those of Isis, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Kurdish PKK, the Turkish Gray Wolves, already banned in France and Germany, and the Croatian fascist movement of the Ustashas. With the new law, “anyone who possesses or disseminates slogans or documents promoting blacklisted groups will be punished with a fine of 4,000 euros and/or one-month imprisonment. In case of recidivism, the sentences could reach up to 10,000 euros in fines and six months imprisonment “.

This is certainly the hardest blow ever inflicted on the powerful brotherhood in Europe, which reacted together with the Turkish organization of Millî Görüs, accusing the Vienna government of “feeding Islamophobia” and fomenting “attacks against Muslims”. Laughable accusations have given that Austria is the only country in Europe to grant official status to Islam without forgetting that the country has long been one of the main strongholds of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the financial centers of political Islamism in Europe. It should also be remembered that men loyal to Hassan al-Banna, the Egyptian founder of the Brotherhood, built their first European networks in the mid-1960s in Graz, the capital of the province of Styria, southwest of Vienna. Saïda Keller-Messahli, journalist, writer, and Swiss-Tunisian rights activist speaks to Panorama.it about the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Austrian law. She is the founder and president of the Forum for a Progressive Islam and was awarded the 2016 Swiss Human Rights Award. What do you think about the new Austrian law, do you believe the same should be done in other countries?

It is a courageous step on the part of the Austrian parliament to have given itself a legal basis to better fight political Islam, a liberticidal, misogynist, and anti-Semitic Islamist ideology that propagates the hatred of the other, the hatred of all otherness and that should not have a place in a democracy.

One of the slogans of the Muslim Brotherhood is “The Koran is our Constitution”. That is to say that their ideology despises any man-made law and therefore any democracy because they want a society governed by the law of Allah, hence an Islamic state.

Yes, I think that every democracy should follow Austria’s example towards the political Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood, their Turkish correspondent Milli Görüs, and any form of political Islam.

You are certainly one of the strongest voices in the fight against political Islam that is spreading in Europe, can you explain which dangers we run by allowing their huge network to spread further?

Since the goal of their entry into democratic institutions is to fight any form of separation between politics and religion, thus fight any principle of secularism from within democratic institutions and to get their hands on Muslims in Europe, there is a great danger that a mixture of religion and politics will be established without people realizing it, where their political Islam will impose itself. But the greatest danger is their active work against any social integration of Muslims in Europe. This will further divide society into Muslims and non-Muslims. A very concrete example: the Muslim Brotherhood has a facility for Muslim students in many European universities. These students are well controlled and guided by the brotherhood. They invite Muslim Brotherhood personalities to lectures, as propaganda for their goal, in order to give themselves academic legitimacy and impose their victimistic discourse of “Islamophobia” and “discrimination of Muslims”, “anti-Muslim racism” etc. This speech will have an impact on all those who are against racism and discrimination but do not know the speech of the Islamists. Another example is that these Muslim student associations at the university (MSA) and other state and secular institutions will seek to have a prayer hall that will serve them primarily as a political tool which – among other things – will facilitate proselytism towards not Muslim students. Proselytizing, in Arabic Da’wa, is a very important political activity of the Islamists.

Why do you think left-wing parties are fascinated by the Muslim Brotherhood? It happens everywhere, but why?

I think much of the left is too benevolent and naive when it comes to political Islam. This part of the left cannot distinguish between a traditional Islam and a political Islam incompatible with democratic values. The left is traditionally the party that defends the weakest in society, including immigrants and their children, and which has an anti-imperialist and anti-colonial discourse. The Islamists’ discourse is also grafted onto the Third World, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist discourse to return to the seventh century when the prophet of Islam lived. It is this common point that blinds much of the left and activates its paternalistic reflex towards any other culture. A paternalism that is, moreover, a form of racism because it wants to protect “the” Muslims without taking into account the fact that they are very different and that the majority of Muslims in Europe are perfectly secular and do not support the objectives and demands of the actors of the political Islam organized in mosques. The vast majority of Muslims in Europe are liberal and do not want to be defined by their religious affiliation. They refuse to be imprisoned in an exclusively religious identity – imprisonment that the actors of political Islam cultivate.

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