Liberal Austrian Muslims counter radical Islamists

The Jerusalem Post - 03 April 2012 - From BENJAMIN WEINTHAL

BERLIN – A group of liberal Austrian Muslims are seeking to counter a recent call by the Saudi grand mufti to "destroy all the churches” in the Gulf region by promoting the construction of a church in the fundamentalist Islamic country that bans Christian houses of worship.

According to a report last week in the Catholic Austrian press agency (KAP), the Initiative of Liberal Muslims in Austria (ILMÖ) issued a strongly worded statement calling for the approval of the construction of a church by the Saudi authorities. It is not acceptable that Saudi Arabia finances the building of mosques and religious centers in Europe, while the construction of churches in the country are outlawed, noted the ILMÖ.

The group of liberal Austrian Muslims also condemned the statement of Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh, who issued a fatwa in March urging the decimation of churches in the Gulf region.

Amnesty International, when queried by The Jerusalem Post, said that the mufti’s statement was cause for concern.

"The grand mufti’s reported comments, which fit into a wider pattern of discrimination against religious minorities in Saudi Arabia, are a serious cause for concern,” Susanna Flood, Amnesty International’s director of media, told the Post by email.

" Such statements are contrary to the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” (...)