There is a dispute within the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) about how to deal with political Islam – critics accuse the party of downplaying Islamism

Roland Fürst, the Social Democratic Party’s (SPÖ) regional manager for the federal state of Burgenland, criticises his own party for its stance in the debate on Islamism.”I have always wondered about the ignorance within the SPÖ towards the advocates of political Islam. For me, as a left-wing and rational social democrat, this was completely incomprehensible and not compatible with the values of the Social Democrats,” says Fürst to the newspaper “Presse”.

For him, criticism of Islamism is not “anti-migrant”, because it is a criticism of a “fascist ideology”. He now wanted to make an appeal to the “enlightened left”, said Fürst.

The increasing accusations of “Islamophobia” have already had an effect on this side. Even cabaret artists today would think twice before mentioning Islam or the Prophet Mohammed.But it is not acceptable that the exponents of political Islam manage to immunise society against criticism of religion. This could also be done by means of pressure groups at the universities, says Fürst, who himself taught at a university of applied sciences for a long time.The fact that the SPÖ voted in parliament in 2019 against the dissolution of the Islamist associations Atib and Milli Görüs had upset him. “Social democracy must decide internationally and nationally to make a clear commitment to the fight against political Islam.But Fürst concedes that there is already a greater understanding of the problem within social democracy. “There is now a more open discussion.” Now there is also criticism of those who used to label others – like him – simply as critics of Islam who exaggerate.

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