Farid Hafez
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Criminalising Muslim political agency from colonial times to today
The case of Austria
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This chapter discusses how Muslims have been framed as a security threat in Austrian politics. It starts with the Habsburg monarchy and how opponent Muslims were criminalised in the Austrian colony of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and shows how Muslim agency has been criminalised again in contemporary Austria. The chapter demonstrates how the governing conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) managed successfully to fundamentally reshape the state’s politics towards Muslim communities by introducing the terminology of ‘political Islam’ into the public discourse, while connecting this to the fear of pan-Islamism in colonial Austria. Institutions that produce knowledge to criminalise Muslimness have been at the centre of the discourse on ‘political Islam’, which influenced the work of the domestic intelligence agency and subsequently police operations, as well as legislation. This chapter demonstrates that the discourse on ‘political Islam’ not only targets Muslimness but also criminalises vocal and/or organised Muslims as well as anti-racist actors and thus captures the postcolonial governance of Islam in contemporary Austria.

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