Criticism of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Milli Görüs is not Islamophobic. Investigations against people who allegedly belong to these organizations are therefore not. Anyone who claims the opposite implicitly equates criticism of Islamism with criticism of Islam. With this argument – in a nutshell – the Graz public prosecutor’s office investigating the “Operation Luxor” opposes the applications of the 16 alleged Muslim Brotherhoods who had applied for the two experts to be dismissed – including allegations of Islamophobia. As the decision submitted to the eXXpress shows, the Graz regional court has endorsed this argument.
Since the house searches of 30 alleged Muslim Brotherhoods, some of the accused have been criticizing the investigation as being Islamophobic across the board and directing this accusation (among others) against the two experts – the political scientist Nina Scholz and the historian Heiko Heinisch. As the eXXpress already reported, the court rejected these applications and saw no reason for bias. In the resolution that the eXXpress has received, the discussion of the Islamophobia accusation is given a lot of space. The Graz public prosecutor’s office, which has a detailed say in it, suggests conclusions about the accused themselves.
On the accusation of bias, referring to the publications of the two experts, the public prosecutor explains: “They (note the accused) do not discuss the term Islamophobia, but use it as a fighting term in order to be able to evade the substantive discussion.” The expert’s report does not deal with the “religion of Islam” but with “radical Islamist ideologies”. The public prosecutor repeatedly points out the implicit equation of Islamist ideologies with Islam on the part of the accused:
“The accused do not consider the investigations into the subject of the proceedings, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Milli Görüs associations and their work in Austria, to be understandable as criticism of the religion of Islam. From this it can be concluded that the named accused do not regard these associations as political organizations based on the ideology of radical Islamism, but – not understandably on the basis of which findings – as the sole representatives of the religion of Islam. “
The allegation of Islamophobia reappeared in several motions by the alleged Muslim Brotherhood. Some accused tried to substantiate the allegation with reference to the Internet address of the Bridge Initiative. This page is dedicated to Islamophobia and its supposed protagonists, including one of the two reviewers. The Graz public prosecutor’s office points out in this context that one of the accused – the political scientist Farid Hafez – is himself part of the team of Bridge Initiative heard. A letter on this website in which academics and lawyers campaign for Hafez also rates the investigation as Islamophobic.
There the house searches are referred to as “the use of anti-terrorist powers by the Austrian government”. After the terrorist attack of November 2, 2020, “the atmosphere of fear was used to legitimize mass raids against Professor Hafez and 29 other people”. And: “The raids are an expression of the intensification of the state’s Islamophobia in Austria”. The Austrian government wants to censor “criticism of this policy, which manifests itself in state Islamophobia” and make it invisible.
The Graz public prosecutor’s office replies: “The investigations are not directed against Islam or people because they are Muslims”. It is about a “suspected situation based on the above-mentioned radical Islamist ideologies acting associations Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Milli Görüs and their representatives in Austria”. And: “However, no investigations are carried out against the religion of Islam or against persons based on their belief in this religion.” The suspects are being investigated, inter alia, on suspicion of membership in a terrorist group. “The religion of Islam is irrelevant for the present case, as is the religious attitude of the accused. The extent to which the accused were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is to be regarded as a terrorist organization, is examined. “
In the end, the Graz Regional Court stated: Here “the line of argument of the prosecution is convincing”, and the two experts had “convincingly denied any bias”.
The claim that the Graz Regional Court had turned out to be fake news. Political scientist Farid Hafez – he was one of the 16 applicants – does not want to give up, as he emphasizes on Twitter: