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‘Cursed Zionists’: Austrian Authorities Order Investigation into Rampant Antisemitism at Vienna Mosque

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avatar by Ben Cohen

ILLUSTRATIVE — An Austrian police officer on guard outside a mosque in Vienna following Friday prayers. Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Austria’s education minister has ordered an investigation into a mosque in Vienna exposed as a hotbed of antisemitic and Islamist incitement.

Education Minister Susanne Raab said on Friday that the investigation of the Al-Hidaya Mosque in the Leopoldstadt neighborhood of the country’s capital was being launched in response to a detailed report on the mosque’s activities.

The 143 page report — compiled by the Documentation Center for Political Islam, a Vienna-based think tank — detailed the promotion of Muslim Brotherhood ideology by the mosque’s imam and president, Ibrahim al-Dermedash. Examining the sermons delivered at the mosque, its social media postings and the offerings contained in its library, the report concluded: “All three areas show support for the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.”

Hamas, which rules Gaza, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks the establishment of Islamic sharia law as the basis for political rule.

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One sermon delivered by al-Demerdash predicted that the 2020s would be a decade of Islamic “renaissance” heralded by the destruction of the State of Israel, which he described as the “cursed Zionists.”

“In 2027, Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth at the hands of men dedicated to Allah, a generation of youth whose hearts cannot be penetrated by fear,” he is alleged to have said.

The sermons delivered by al-Demerdash also contained visceral attacks on Muslims deemed to show a lack of piety.

“There are (among us) those whose heads are confused and whose faith is defective,” he is alleged to have stated, according to the Austrian news outlet Der Standard on Friday. “They don’t fully understand the matter because they start from the wrong basic assumptions and because they are infected by the secular, liberal way of thinking.”

The imam is also alleged to have justified sexual assaults by Muslim men upon unwilling female partners. “The woman’s sexual refusal towards the man is permitted only if there is a medical or religious reason,” he is alleged to have said.

In her statement announcing the investigation into the mosque, Raab  said she “was informed on Monday about these new findings from the Documentation Center. I therefore immediately instructed the Department of Education to initiate an investigation. The public prosecutor’s office is also investigating.”

Other politicians echoed Raab’s concern. “We must not and will not allow radical preachers in the spirit of political Islam to poison our youth with homophobic, misogynist, child-threatening and antisemitic ideas,” Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, the human rights spokeswoman for the Green Party, told Der Standard.

Raab additionally called on the IGGO, Austria’s main Islamic body, to “fulfill their responsibilities.” In a statement to Der Standard, the organization said it would take “appropriate measures” if the allegations in the report were verified.

The Austrian authorities have been concerned with al-Demerdash since Nov. 2020, when the security authorities launched “Operation Luxor” targeting pro-Hamas mosques following an attack in Vienna by a jihadist gunman in the same month that claimed the lives of four people. Two mosques in Vienna were closed down as a result of that operation.

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