The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Friday criticized the draft amendments to the 1912 Austrian Federal Law on the Recognition of Adherents to Islam as a Religious Society, commonly known as Islam Law.
The draft amendments are incompatible with relevant international human rights standards and OSCE commitments, according to a statement issued by the Vienna-based organization after months of controversy between the German government and the Muslim community including the domestic legally-recognized Islamic institutions.
The draft law provides for stricter regulations on recognition of the status of domestic Islamic organizations and bars any foreign funding to these organizations, particularly from Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
It bans preaching by any unregistered preachers and compels mosque preachers to translate their sermons into German.
The OSCE criticism is based on an opinion released by the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) on November 7, 2014.
The opinion, which analyzes the provisions of the draft Law against the background of its compatibility with relevant international human rights standards and OSCE commitments, came in response to a request by the Permanent Representative of Austria to the OSCE/ODIHR on October 17, 2014 to review the draft.
If passed by the federal parliament of Austria, the draft will take effect as of early 2015.
Islam in particular has been recognized constitutionally as a religion since 1912 when the Islam Law, issued by Emperor Franz Joseph I, acknowledged Islam's followers within the Austrian half of the empire.
In 1979, the 1912 Law was the basis for the recognition of Islam as a corporation of public law which proclaimed a Constitution of the Islamic Religious Body and the establishment of the first Viennese Islamic Religion Community.
The Muslim community in Austria is estimated at 500,000 people or five percent of the eight million population, according to the 2006 census.