DPI Annual Report: Structures of political Islam operate across national borders

The new annual report summarizes the work of the fund and provides an overview of extremist religious-political movements.

The events following the Hamas terror on October 7, 2023 and the subsequent war have recently highlighted the importance of researching and documenting the structures and ideologies of political Islam throughout Europe. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict often serves Islamist actors as a vehicle for undifferentiated polarization and as a pretext for propagating extremist messages. Since its foundation three years ago, the Documentation Centre for Political Islam has published 22 academic publications, including the current annual report 2022. Like the Fund's work, the reports have attracted interest beyond Austria, as many of the movements and developments investigated are transnational and do not stop at national borders.

Identity conflicts and targeted propaganda

Research and documentation activities have recently focused primarily on structures of Turkish origin in Austria and Islamist influencer groups in German-speaking countries. In the last Turkish election campaign in particular, increased activities and influence were identified in Austria via associations such as the Union of International Democrats (UID). The network acts as an extension of Erdogan and his AKP, also spreading problematic narratives about the Israel-Palestine conflict, including anti-Semitic stereotypes.

In the virtual space, Islamist groups - some of which are close to Hizb ut-Tahrir - instrumentalize identity conflicts and actual experiences of discrimination to spread anti-democratic and anti-minority messages in various media. Young people are targeted on social media channels and social counter-concepts are propagated that are incompatible with liberal-pluralistic democracy. Politicians and the media are accused of Islamophobia across the board in order to spread their own Islamist views and an "us versus them" narrative.

Annual Report 2022

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