Austria Seeks Standardized Koran to Stem Islamic Extremism

FM announces bill to create unitary German-language version of Islam's holy text; move comes day after Austria announces anti-terrorism measures.

Albert Otti
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Islamic State fighter distributes Koran in Mosul, Iraq: Austrian bill meant to prevent 'misuse' of holy Muslim text.Credit: AP
Albert Otti

DPA - The Austrian government plans a bill to create a standardized German-language version of the Koran, in order to prevent extremists from misusing the holy Muslim text, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Saturday.

The bill was needed because Austrians should know the Koran's content, said Kurz. Additionally, he argued mainstream Muslims are suffering because terrorists and their sympathizers are acting upon incorrect interpretations, said the minister, who is also responsible for integration policy.

A standardized Koran version is to be selected by Austria's Islamic Religious Community, he told public radio Oe1. "We will be pushing for this vigorously," he said. The provision on the Koran will be part of a bill to update Austria's Islam Law from 1912.

Of the 500,000 Muslims in Austria, some 140 have joined the conflicts in Iraq and Syria as extremists, according to Kurz.

Earlier this week, the government presented an action plan against terrorist groups such as Islamic State. It includes: a ban on the groups' symbols; revoking Austrian citizenship of extremist fighters who are double citizens; and stricter rules for minors who want to travel outside the European Union.

The Islamic Community's spokeswoman, Carla Amina Baghajati, said Saturday that it was very difficult to define one correct Koran version, because Arabic words often have a wide range of meanings. However, it was in her organization's interest to work on this issue, she told Austrian press agency APA. 

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