• Austria's news in English

Military imam to speak to recruits on National Day

The Local · 19 Oct 2015, 11:43

Published: 19 Oct 2015 11:43 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Imam Abdulmedzid Sijamhodzic, a native Bosnian, is responsible for the pastoral care of Muslim soldiers, and he advises commanders and officers who need clarification on religious issues, as well as holding regular Friday prayers in German.

The 37-year-old told the Austria Press Agency that he has not noticed any radical tendencies amongst the Muslim soldiers he had come into contact with - saying that he had spoken with them about social and ethical questions and that some had told him “they were willing to die for Austria if necessary”. He added that they were all happy with the way they were treated in the army.

He also participates in various events with his Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox colleagues.

Sijamhodzic's main job is as a religion teacher at a secondary school in Vienna. His work as an imam is based on a contract between the Islamic community and Austria’s Armed Forces.

"It is a Muslim’s duty to respect the law. There is complete compatibility between the life of a devout Muslim and the democratic principles of a state,” Sijamhodzic said, adding that the Koran advocates “the right to equality, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of expression. These are things that unite us all."

The establishment of a military imam was made possible by the new Law on Islam that gives Muslims the right to religious guidance in institutions such as the armed forces, prisons, hospitals and nursing homes.

800 Muslims are currently registered with the Austrian army, around 700 of them are conscripts. In Vienna, every fifth recruit is Muslim.

Devout Muslim soldiers are allowed to keep their beards and are given time off for important Islamic holidays and religious festivals - working on other days instead.

Sijamhodzic came to Austria in 2004 as a teenager, fleeing the war in Bosnia with his family. He urged people to treat refugees from war torn countries humanely: "Having experienced war I can say that it is the worst thing that can happen to people," he said. "I see Europe as a peace project, and call upon all Muslims to contribute to this peace project."

Roughly half a million Muslims live in Austria today, around six percent of the population. Many of them have Turkish or Bosnian roots.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available