VIENNA – Official figures is showing a dramatic growth in conversions from Christianity to Islam in Austria, contradicting with an increasing discrimination against the religious minority in different European countries.
“We see that people have spiritual longing that they feel there is something missing in their lives, if there is no dimension, no horizon as to the hereafter, or where am I? Why am I here?” Carla Amina Baghajati, spokeswoman for the Islamic Community of Austria, told Press TV on Friday, April 13.
Finding comfort in the teachings of Islam, many Austrians were reverting to Islam in a predominantly Catholic country.
Others, however, were driven to Islam following abuse scandals in the Catholic church which played a major part in the exodus of members to Islam.
“If the church is small in membership, it would be smaller in social influence,” Michael Pruller, Archdiocesan spokesman, told Press TV.
“But I think this only highlights the kind of transformation the church is undergoing at the moment being the authoritative social institution which morals has been forced upon the people for centuries.”
Estimations show that almost half a million Austrian Christians have converted to Islam since roughly two years ago, with the numbers of conversions keeping thriving, Press TV said.
In 2007, Austria Muslims have championed a nation-wide campaign to introduce the Prophet and his teachings to their fellow countrymen.
The campaign echoed others launched by Muslims Europe-wide in response to the sacrilegious Danish cartoons that lampooned the Prophet in 2005.
In spite of a growing anti-Muslim tide all over European countries, Austrian Muslims believe these campaigns gave them a better opportunity for building bridges with the society.
“When I stepped to Islam I had the personal impression that it isn’t something like a big change to me but more like a step forward,” Baghajati told Press TV.
“This is why I feel that there is a good possibility to build more bridges between people because we share much more that many people would think.”
Across Europe, far-right politicians have accelerated their rhetoric against Muslim minorities in recent years.
Far-right Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has called for banning the Muslim face-veil in the Netherlands and stopping immigration from Muslim countries.
In Sweden, the far-right Sweden Democrats have unveiled plans to impose a moratorium on building new mosques in the Scandinavian country.