Friday, January 4, 2013: 3:10 PM
Chamber Ballroom IV (Roosevelt New Orleans)
The presentation centers on Turkish immigration to Austria in recent decades. Since the early modern Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, a “Turkish threat” has been a core component of Austria history and myth. The presence of Turkish and Bosnian Muslim immigrants has once again provoked debate about Austria’s Christian, Western and European identity. The siege narrative reemerged post-1960 and has blossomed into open Islamophobia in the rhetoric of right-wing political parties. For an everyday-life perspective on how these fears have played out in local settings this presentation looks at the “minaret debate” as it unfolded in the three locations in Austria where minarets were erected at mosques —Vienna, Telfs (Tyrol) and Bad Vöslau (Lower Austria). Like the “veil debate” that scholars have analyzed elsewhere in Europe the “minaret debate” offers a symbolic issue around which to examine social relations more deeply. The presentation investigates how the proposed buildings changed local perceptions about neighborhood identity. Discussions centered on architecture (would the height of the minaret dwarf surrounding “Austrian” buildings), economics (would the presence of Muslims affect the local business climate), and even personal well-being (would the minaret endanger local residents’ feeling of being “at home”). These debates are reconstructed using press reportage and oral interviews with minaret proponents and detractors.