Muslim Youth Movements in Europe

The research project "Muslim Youth Movements in Europe: Mobilization and Identity Construction", which is scheduled from October 2014 to September 2017, aims to explore multi-ethnic, Muslim youth movements in Austria and Germany. The objective of the research is to examine conditions, manifestations and mechanisms of mobilization, the construction of collective identities and youth cultures, and politics of the respective youth movements. It is aimed to study a wide range of youth movements, representing different orientations of Islam, in the two mentioned countries.

The leading research question is: What role do Sicherheitskultur (Daase 2012) and church-state relations (Fetzer & Soper 2004) play for the self-perception and the politics of native speaking, multi-ethnic Muslim youth movements (who no longer define themselves along ethnic borders as did the first generation of Muslim immigrants). As opposed to Muslim associations of the first generation (Jonker 2002; Schiffauer 2010), associations of the so-called second and third generation are widely ignored in the literature on Muslim societies.

A central question is, whether a multi-ethnic consistence of the members as well as a common language (German) of these youth movements lead to more political participation and thus to a greater visibility of Muslim religiosity in the public space or not.

The gender aspect will also be analyzed. How do young Muslims, who are socialized in a mixed society, and who are organized in a Muslim youth movement organization, organize the gender aspect? Do Muslim women participate in all aspects of the organization? Do Muslim youth movements give space to young women who are excluded from other spheres of the public? By that, is the public space transformed with respect to the public visibility of Muslim religion?

Also, it will be asked whether different Sicherheitskulturen (wehrhafte Demokratie in Germany, etc.) as much as different state-church relations (legal status of Islam in Austria) have an effect on political participation of Muslim youth movements and does this lead to more politicization of religion (and if yes, how it is coined).

Furthermore, it is aimed to examine religiously inspired volunteer work. Questions such as: How do these movements motivate and mobilize people? Which structures of discontent are defined for legitimizing their policies and politics? What are the self-perceptions of these youth movements? It questions how these movements construct meaning, symbols, identities and youth cultures in the collective.

It will be examined, what the implications of the politics of these youth movements on the public space are and how they are transformed by these politics. Particularly, how borders of the private and the public are shifted by actors of religious youth movements.

The two countries Austria and Germany were chosen, since they are an ideal starting point for a comparative analysis. Next to different parallels (a similar history of immigration in Austria and Germany, ethnic composition of Muslim population, homogenous official national identity), some factors such as church-state relations (e.g. legal status of religions) and the Sicherheitskultur are different in many ways. Germany is well analyzed in respect of researches on contemporary Muslim life, while Austria is a research desideratum in international literature. Studies concentrate mainly on legal aspects (Kalb et al. 2003) and shed light on special issues like veil-politics (Gresch & Hadj-Abdou 2009) or mosque politics (Fürlinger 2010; Hafez 2010).

Project information in the university journal: PLUS report 2015, pp. 18-23.

Project coordinator: Univ.-Prof. Reinhard Heinisch, MA PhD
Project assistant: Dr. Farid Hafez, Postdoc

Project-related Publications

2018 Hafez, Farid/Reinhard Heinisch (2018). Breaking with Austrian Consociationalism: How the Rise of Rightwing Populism and Party Competition Have Changed Austria’s Islam Politics, in: Politics and Religion, 11(3), 649–678. [Link]
2016 Farid Hafez/Reinhard Heinisch/Raoul Kneucker/Regina Polak (Hrsg.) (2016). Jung, muslimisch, österreichisch: Einblicke in 20 Jahre Muslimische Jugend Österreich, Wien. [Link]
2015 Hafez, Farid (2015). Das IslamG im Kontext islamophober Diskurse: Eine Policy Frame-Analyse zum Politikgestaltungsprozess des IslamG 2015, in: Juridikum, (2), 160–165. [Link]
Hafez, Farid/Dautović, Rijad (2015). MuslimInnen als BürgerInnen zweiter Klasse? Eine vergleichende Analyse des Entwurfes eines neuen Islamgesetzes 2014 zum restlichen Religionsrecht, in: Jahrbuch für Islamophobieforschung 2015, 26–54. [Link]
2014Hafez, Farid (2014a). Disciplining the „Muslim Subject“: The Role of Security Agencies in Establishing Islamic Theology within the State’s Academia, in: Islamophobia Studies Journal, Vol. 2(2), 43–57. [Link]
Hafez, Farid (2014b). Gedenken im „islamischen Gedankenjahr“: Zur diskursiven Konstruktion des österreichischen Islams im Rahmen der Jubiläumsfeier zu 100 Jahren Islamgesetz, in: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlands, Vol. 104, 63–84. [Link]
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