Muslim women can wear bikinis

"Does a girl really have to wear a bikini?"

The Islam law is 100 years old. Why it should be reformed, why circumcision must be allowed and how he feels about the Muslim Brotherhood and the question of the headscarf, he said Fuat Sanaç, Head of the Islamic Faith Community, Peter Mayr and Petra Stuiber.

DEFAULT: The Cologne Regional Court ruled that religious circumcision is a criminal offense. What do you make of it?

Sanaç: I do not interfere in the affairs of any other state. But I know many boys from Christian families who were circumcised for hygienic reasons.

DEFAULT: Do you expect "circumcision tourism" if that is a criminal offense in Germany?

Sanaç: I do not know whether this saying can continue to exist there because it is a conflict between the Islamic and the western world. It's not just about Germany and Austria. This has a particularly strong tradition among Muslims. A man has two special experiences in his life: One is circumcision, which is celebrated like a wedding. The second then is the wedding. So how can the Muslims accept that? It is too much interference with religion.

DEFAULT: The Islam law is 100 years old. You yourself recently said it was out of date. What do you want to reform?

Sanaç: 100 years ago the Muslims spoke neither about running schools or kindergartens nor about their own pastors in the hospital. We always have to ask whether we are allowed to do something. When rights are written down there is no discussion.

DEFAULT: When should the new law be ready?

Sanaç: I hope it can come into effect in early 2013.

DEFAULT: Federal President Heinz Fischer recently said that he saw the "Islamophobia curve flattening". Would you agree with that?

Sanaç: Just like that. After 9/11 it was very strong, meanwhile people have seen what happened in Iraq and in Afghanistan who is behind the fact that many people were killed. On the other hand, they see that there is also terrorism in Germany or Norway. That it is not the Muslims' fault.

DEFAULT: Has the Arab Spring earned any sympathy points in the West? And could it be that these will disappear again if the Muslim Brotherhood wins elections?

Sanaç: The Arab Spring is nothing new. Muslims have been fighting for freedom, democracy and justice for 100 years. The dictatorships were financed and supported by the West. You will see that the Muslim Brotherhood are more democratic than anyone else. Who brought Turkey to where it is now in ten years? The AKP, Milli Görüs, that was the Muslim Brotherhood at the time. Today Turkey is democratic and military power has been pushed back.

DEFAULT: To come back to Austria and the topic of Islamophobia: Do you think that the FPÖ will in future dispense with election campaign slogans such as "Daham instead of Islam"?

Sanaç: I hope so. Think of Innsbruck a few weeks ago. Then this poster was posted against Moroccans, after a few days it was gone again. Strache will have to consider that if he really wants to become Federal Chancellor, he has to hug the entire people. It is unworthy to make a difference on the basis of religion.

DEFAULT: A recurring point of criticism is that parallel societies are emerging in that part of society with a migration background. Is this accusation justified?

Sanaç: It is not justified. The people who came here were poor. You were very capable and achieved a lot. Then they brought their relatives to join them. Where should they go? Of course, to where they already have someone. This has resulted in a certain ghettoization. And many also believed that they would not stay here. Therefore, they did not invest in Austria. Now some of them are very wealthy, even buying houses and building villas on the outskirts.

DEFAULT: There are rumors that certain private schools are supported by very conservative circles in Arabia, where one does not know exactly what is being taught there.

Sanaç: Whoever says that has no idea. Private schools are jobs for the state faculty. The operation is carried out by the association. The teachers are appointed by the city school board, so the students will only learn what is taught in the other schools. The Catholics or the Protestants also have private schools, what's the difference?

DEFAULT: How many more schools do you need?

Sanaç: It depends on the need. In the 10th and 20th districts of Vienna, for example, elementary schools are needed. That’s already approved and they’re coming next year.

DEFAULT: Her predecessor, Anas Schakfeh, also wanted more mosques. How do you see it

Sanaç: You can only plan that according to your needs. Why should I build mosques in cities where few Muslims live. It's not about dreams, life goes the way it's supposed to go.

DEFAULT: Imams are to be trained in Austria in the future. How far are you there?

Sanaç: If our imams are criticized for not speaking German well, for example, then give us the opportunity to train them here. It was the same with the Islamic religion teachers. Do you know how long we had to wait for this? 18 years! We were insulted for hiring newspaper vendors as religion teachers. The said man was a doctor of theology. Now we're talking about the imams and we're being put off again. If everything goes well, there might be a faculty at the university in six years. Why let so much time go by? I do not understand that. But I'm trying to stay optimistic that it will be faster.

DEFAULT: Is it difficult to bring imams to Austria?

Sanaç: They are very cautious. This affects all of Europe. Why? You have to return, you are not entitled to an unlimited visa. In addition, they are not paid well because the clubs pay for their wages. That makes them, of course, toys for the communities. Your legal situation urgently needs to be improved.

DEFAULT: On the subject of the headscarf you once said that women should wear it, and then again that every woman was free to wear it. What is true now?

Sanaç: Both are true. It depends on the question. If you ask me if Islam requires women to wear a headscarf, I will say yes. But the decision is made by the people themselves. In Islam there is an order, a verse: There is no compulsion in faith. Whether a woman chooses the headscarf or not, you have to respect it.

DEFAULT: But women are often under social pressure.

Sanaç: Any kind of print is un-Islamic. But we are also for the rights of women who wear headscarves. They cannot be excluded either. They often experience this when looking for a job. This is bad. Any kind of dictation in religion is forbidden.

DEFAULT: You once said that after puberty a girl shouldn't go swimming with boys. Isn't that a dictation?

Sanaç: That's not the point. I am very much in favor of all people learning to swim. It's about exposing. A body suit is the solution. We do that too. Does a girl really have to wear a bikini? That would also be a compulsion. (Petra Stuiber / Peter Mayr, DER STANDARD, June 29, 2012)

Fuat Sanaç (58) has been President of the Islamic Faith Community in Austria (IGGiÖ) since 2011. The native Turk followed Anas Schakfeh. Sanaç worked as a religion teacher until he became a specialist inspector for Islamic religious education in 2005. The IGGiÖ recorded around 340,000 Muslims.

Knowledge: Islam in Austria

Islam became an officially recognized religion in Austria in 1912 - today, Friday, we are invited to a large ceremony in the Vienna City Hall. A total of around 600,000 Muslims live in Austria (according to an estimate by the Ministry of the Interior). There are around 200 prayer rooms available, most of them in Vienna. There are four mosques with minarets: in Telfs (Tyrol), in Saalfelden (Salzburg), in Bad Vöslau (Lower Austria) and in Vienna-Floridsdorf, which is also the largest mosque.

However, it took a long time before Islamic classes were allowed in schools: This was introduced in the 1982/1983 school year. There were 57,000 Muslim students in the 2010/2011 school year.