We're crossed the Inn into Telfs to see a new structure, the minaret of the mosque in Telfs. Austria's population includes many Turkish Muslims, because both Germany and Austria welcomed Turkish "guest-workers" in the years after World War II. From a historical perspective, the presence of Muslims in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (i.e., before the end of World War I) may have also promoted the involvement of Turks in post-WWII Austria. Telfs was a special example, in that Turkish workers were encouraged to come work in textile factories in Telfs in the 1960s. The factories are gone, but people of Turkish ancestry are still about 15% of Telfs's population.
That gets us to the mosque and its minaret. The mosque was opened in 2001, in a former rettungsheim on Giessenweg, by the local Turkish cultural association. However, citizens of Germanic descent in Telfs, almost all Roman Catholics, launched protests in 2005 when the Turkish cultural association announced that it wanted to build a minaret to accompany the mosque. Among the roughly 15,000 residents of Telfs, about 2,400 people signed a petition against the building of the mosque, and nearby homeowners threatened lawsuits. Locals objected that the minaret would attract crowds and thus cause traffic congestion. Others complained that the minaret would represent a victory of Islam over Christianity.
On November 17, 2005, a compromise was reached wherein the mosque's minaret would be only fifteen meters tall, rather than the twenty meters originally planned by the cultural center. Leaders of the cultural center also agreed that they would forego having a muezzin call out for prayers from the minaret. The result was the 2006 structure above, which some locals complain towers over the center of the town. In fact, the mosque is on the outskirts of town, with a farm in plain sight nearby. The minaret turns out to be quite short in comparison to the towers of the church of St. Peter and Paul, the Roman Catholic church of Telfs (on the left below), and in comparison to the steeple of the Roman Catholic church across the river in Pfaffenhofen (on the right below). Not only are the church towers much taller, but also the bells of these church towers call Christians to prayer while the minaret stands without a muezzin.
Meanwhile, many local leaders work toward greater integration and mutual understanding between Telfs's two religious and cultural groups. Nonetheless, the compromises made by the Turksih cultural association haven't satisfied all of the town's Roman Catholic population, and Wilhelm Parth, a leader of the opposition to the minaret, claimed that he was moving from the town in response. As for claims about traffic, the photographs above were taken on a Friday, a likely time for a mosque to be busy, and there was virtually no traffic on Giessenweg.
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Sources of information used to generate this page include
and a 9 November 2006 Associated Press story by Veronika Oleksyn carried by
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