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Screenshot from Addendum interview with Wiesinger

Austrian teacher forced to quit union after she criticises Islam

"Sharia has a higher priority for many of my pupils,” a teacher working in Vienna, Austria told the media. The Teacher's Union forced her to quit after her remarks.

Published: March 26, 2018, 9:49 am

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    Susanne Wiesinger, a teacher in Vienna has come under attack after she warned of the increasing influence of Islam in Austrian schools: “We have a class of 25, where you’d need to integrate 21 children into our society — not just with respect to language, but also culturally. This is not humanly possible,” Wiesinger explained in an interview with the research platform Addendum.

    “What are we supposed to integrate them into? We [teachers] are the only members of the Austrian majority society that they know”.

    Susanne Wiesinger has been teaching for 25 years in the district of Favoriten in Vienna, the last ten years at a new middle school.

    In the past, says the 53-year-old, it was possible to get through to her pupils with topics, but these days, the Muslim pupils especially are barely interested. Their only interest is religion, she says. “Sharia certainly has a higher priority for many of my students,” said the pedagogue. “The most important thing for them is to be a good Muslim and a good Muslima.”

    This is manifested in the classroom, too: Making music and dancing together are rejected for religious reasons. More and more often, questions of belief are the reason for conflicts among the children. She witnessed similar developments with the parents. Often they are not interested in education, but solely in the Islamic faith. “It is what makes them worth more, in their eyes. What makes them stand out from us,” she explained.

    “There is a development in a direction that isn’t healthy for any society,” said Wiesinger criticizing the growing influence of Islam in Vienna schools. It is the first time that a personal representative of the social democratic teachers’ union has spoken out so frankly about integration problems in the classroom.

    The Social Democratic union does not like opinions like those Wiesinger expressed: “They always warn us not to speak to the press,” says the 53-year-old. It became even worse after the ÖVP-FPÖ coalition took power.

    After Wiesinger made her experiences public, she was subjected to sharp criticism — especially from her own ranks. “I can’t stand it anymore, being the hostage of party politics,” said the 53-year-old. In a video message that was published this Friday by Addendum on Facebook, she announced that she was leaving the teachers’ union.

    “The truly important issues — integration, German, problem schools, classes — we do not deal with that at all,” notes Wiesinger. Instead, there were endless debates, for example, over which paper to use to print a school message on. “I felt like I was in the wrong film. The discussion over which paper to print the grades on went on for hours. This can’t be for real. I would have loved to print it on toilet paper, because it doesn’t matter at all. This is about more important things.”

    But speaking about the influence of Islam in the schools of Vienna is not allowed, the teacher feels. But even if she is no longer a representative, she does not want to close her eyes to the problems, and will keep on criticizing Islam, she said.

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