‘Political’ Islam in Austrian politics

For German version click here.

When I was younger, I heard much about Islam and Islamism, and the difference between the two. Then, over the past few years, ‘Political Islam’ has entered my political consciousness. I was always a bit suspicious of this term, mostly because I felt that it blurs the line between a radical politics and a religion. A few weeks ago, I was wondering about how politicians in Austria speak about the so-called ‘Political Islam’.

The below plot shows how often politicians frame Islam as ‘political’. It shows, split up by party over time, the ratio between the terms ‘political Islam’ and ‘Islam’ in plenary speeches in the Austrian parliament. In other words: how many times the word ‘Islam’ is preceded by the adjective ‘political’.

Ratio of ‘Political Islam’ relative to ‘Islam’ in Austrian parliamentary speeches (Red: SPÖ, black: ÖVP, green: Greens, blue: FPÖ, pink: NEOS).

Up until 2015 the concept of Political Islam played no role in Austrian politics. Around the time of the refugee crisis it started to gain some traction. By 2018, around 70% of the instances Islam was mentioned by a Conservative Member of Parliament, it was in the context of ‘Political Islam’. Interestingly, this happened just after Sebastian Kurz became Chancellor of Austria.