Jihadist (illustration)
Jihadist (illustration) Thinkstock

Austria on Thursday called for standardized German-language translations of the Koran and moved to prohibit foreign funding of Muslim organizations on its soil in a draft law aimed in part at tackling Islamic extremism, Reuters reports.

The bill will overhaul a 1912 law governing the status of Austrian Muslims, prompting concern from a major local Islamic body, which saw it mirroring widespread mistrust of Muslims.

"The clear message should be that there is no contradiction between being a faithful Muslim and a proud Austrian," said Foreign Affairs and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz, a member of the conservative People's Party, according to Reuters.

"If you don't have orderly legal regulation ... this can always bring dangers (of extremism). In this sense, if you like this is maybe a part of prevention," he told reporters.

He added that Sharia, or Islamic law, had "no place here".

Roughly half a million Muslims live in Austria, representing about 6 percent of the total population, which is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

In Austria, noted Reuters, Christian and Muslim communities have co-existed for years and relations have been relatively unproblematic by comparison with friction seen in other European nations.

For example, unlike France, Austria has not moved to ban Muslim women from wearing full-face veils in public.

Under the terms of the draft bill, state-recognized religious organizations will have to offer a unified German-language version of their doctrine and sources of faith, including for the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

At present, there are only two officially recognized Islamic organizations in Austria.

The legislation would also forbid Islamic teachers employed by any foreign states from working in Austria and stop outside funding for any Islamic organizations.

Foreign minister Kurz told Austrian radio last month that numerous translations of the Koran had generated countless interpretations and said it was in the interests of local Muslims to eliminate possible misunderstandings.

The Austrian government warned in August that Islamist militancy was on the rise and officials have said around 140 people have left Austria to fight with the likes of ISIS.

Last month, Austria said it would ban militant Islamist groups' symbols and strip citizenship from people who travel abroad to fight with jihadists.

Austria’s move comes amid concerns, not just in that country, over locals traveling to Syria to fight alongside jihadist groups such as the “Islamic State” (IS or ISIS)”, then coming home to carry out terrorist attacks in their countries.

Russians, Americans, Canadians and French citizens are among those to have been known to be taking part in the fighting in the Middle East.

Australia recently apprehended an Islamist terror cell whose members planned to behead a random member of the public.

In Germany, meanwhile, a ban on ISIS was recently announced, with the German government explaining it aimed to prevent the group from recruiting young jihadists in the country.