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Whose Austria?

Muslim Youth Challenge Nativist and Closed Notions of Austrian Identity

Farid Hafez

The Austrian Muslim Youth was founded in 1996 by young Muslims of different ethnic backgrounds and has become the largest multi-ethnic, co-educational, German-speaking youth organization in Austria today. Since its inception, it has presented the concept of an ‘Austrian Muslim identity’ as a key philosophy. In this article, I ask how the idea of this identity was negotiated. I suggest that this concept is not reinforcing nativist notions. Rather, the formation of an Austrian Muslim identity can be seen as an attempt to create safe spaces to empower young Muslims to live their religion while fully participating in Austrian society. Hence, this concept speaks to two audiences simultaneously, challenging nativist notions and offering young Muslims ways to see themselves as possessing multiple and hybrid identities.

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Farid Hafez

This article explains the failure of Pegida Austria as a social movement organization by testing three prominent theories of social movement theory: political opportunity structures, ideology, and resource mobilization. The failure of Pegida to play a role in Austrian politics is ascribed to the dominant role the Freedom Party (FPÖ) already plays in the Austrian parliament, the FPÖ’s issue dominance on anti-immigration and Islamophobia in public discourse, and the relative scarcity of individuals capable of mass mobilization outside the spectrum of political parties. The analysis is based on a crucial-case study that does a comparative content analysis of the FPÖ and Pegida platforms to assess the ideology argument. The political opportunity and human resource arguments are analyzed with process tracing. The findings reveal that all three theories jointly help to explain the failure of Pegida Austria.