The police chief in Austria's second largest city is worried that radical Islamists will infiltrate his otherwise peaceful Muslim community.
Graz police director Alexander Gaisch told a local newspaper that foreign funding for mosques, particularly from Saudi Arabia, could bring a more radical message. He advocated increased legislative efforts in Austria to counter such foreign funding.
Muslims were believed to constitute about 6 percent of the Austrian population in 2009. However, as with many European countries, issues of assimilation and radicalization within the Austrian Muslim population have been a concern. Radical Islamic organizations such as the Lebanon-based Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood not only have a presence in Austria but have been linked to threats and violence.
Gaisch, in his interview published Monday by the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung, was careful to distinguish between his existing community and the outside forces he sees moving in. "It'll never be an obvious radicalism," he said. "There won't ever be sword-fighters coming. We will be slowly infiltrated."
The interview reflects a rare candid assessment by a senior police official about the threat posed by radical Islam in Europe.