New Study: Hamas as “Role Model” for Strength of Faith and Martyrdom

The latest publication shows how Political Islam can manifest at the local level of a mosque community.

The Austrian Fund for the Documentation of Religiously Motivated Political Extremism (Documentation Centre Political Islam) published a new study that analyses the manifestations of ideology from the spectrum of Political Islam at the community level in Austria. The publication therefore looked closely at the Islamic Association in Austria (IVÖ), their publicly available Friday sermons, parts of their library and social media statements. The messages reach a wider virtual audience through online channels, such as social networks. The Vienna-based IVÖ operates one of Austria’s oldest and largest mosques.

Hamas support, anti-Semitism and a young target group

Public expressions of opinion by IVÖ officials on social networks are found to often be fraught with anti-Semitic stereotypes as well as calls for the destruction of Israel. The stock of the mosque’s own lending library includes works that are ideologically along the same lines. According to his own statements, the imam in charge is pursuing the goal of shaping a new generation that is to become a driving force for change along the lines of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology.

Young people in particular are therefore an important target group. A social ideal of glorification of martyrdom and the virtue of “manliness” is often cited. Jihad in defense of Islamic countries is also mentioned in connection with this ideal. The term jihad has a wide range of meanings, but in the present case, it is largely narrowed down to Hamas, an organisation which is classified as a terrorist organization in the European Union, and which is praised in the Friday sermons at this particular mosque as being exemplary for all Muslims.

“The ideological content is found to be at odds with a liberal, pluralistic democracy and in essence promotes conflict. Conveying such a worldview to a predominantly young, male audience in the mosque community is questionable and can contribute to an easier spread of radical ideas,” says Lisa Fellhofer, Director of the Documentation Centre Political Islam.

The new study can be downloaded here. (German Edition)

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