The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has noted with deep concern the news about the closure of seven mosques and possible measures to revoke residency rights of dozens of imams and their families in Austria.
The Commission considers that these politically motivated arbitrary measures impinge upon the civil liberties and religious freedom of Muslims guaranteed under the International and European human rights laws. Under Art 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Austria is obliged to guarantee the right to freedom of religion to all its citizens, which include the freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest one’s religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.
Targeting a specific religion / religious group based on stereotypes poses a real danger that these actions will further stoke up anti-Muslim hatred and provide the fodder for an already growing number of acts of violence against the Muslim community. Furthermore, such executive actions not only have the potential to amplify Islamophobic rhetoric but also seriously undermine the sentiments, rights and freedoms of law abiding Muslim minorities who are wholeheartedly contributing towards the political, socioeconomic and cultural development of different European societies.
Based on its recent history, European countries know well the extreme consequences of negative stereotyping and defamation of religious minorities. The Commission, accordingly, urges the Government of Austria to exercise restraint and respect the religious freedoms and sensitivities of its Muslim minority and promote an atmosphere of social integration based on universal human rights values and principles.