Rejection of Violence: Statement by the Federal President and Representatives of the Religious Communities.

Press Service of the Federal President
German original:

Rejection of violence: Joint Statement by the federal president and the representatives of the religious communities.

Joint statement of Federal President Heinz Fischer, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Bishop Michael Bünker, Episcopal Vicar Iaonnis Nikolitsis, Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg, President Fuat Sanac and Superintendent Lothar Pöll on shared positions and values in the aftermath of the murderous attacks in Paris on January 7, 2015.

Vienna, January 13, 2015

Joint Statement

Last week, Paris has witnessed a three-day long terrorist attack of Islamic fanatics which claimed numerous victims. Such a situation demands [an answer based on] wisdom and a sense of responsibility. France has done this in an impressive rally last Sunday. We have also witnessed a stunning number of reactions of solidarity and compassion in Austria. The Austrian federal government, together with the legally recognized religious communities, had invited the public for a rally on Ballhausplatz for Sunday, January 11 as a sign of consternation, solidarity and determination in the fight against terrorism. 

At this event, the Austrian federal government put forward a statement that reaffirmed the lessons from the past, our commitment to human rights, rule of law, and freedom of speech and called for the joint defense of our values and principles. As a further step, the federal president has invited the representatives of the three biggest religious communities in Austria, i.e. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as well as two representatives of the Austrian federal government to exchange thoughts and define shared positions in this framework focusing on the following:

1.     Our abhorrence of the crimes committed in Paris.

2.     Our solidarity with the victims and their families.

3.     A warning against further bloodshed: There is no matter in the world, even less a religious matter, that can benefit from murder and manslaughter.

4.     Values and principles, such as human dignity, human rights, democracy and rule of law were built over the course of centuries. They cannot be eliminated by the fanaticism of misguided individuals, not even through violence and terror.

5.     Church and state are separated in Austria. However, this does not prevent them to cooperate in the defense of democracy, human dignity, and human rights against terror. On the contrary: This cooperation is important and valuable.

6.     The attacks in France killed Christians, Jews, Muslims, and individuals without religious affirmation alike. For this and many other reasons, the brotherly cooperation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, other legally recognized religious groups, and citizens without religious affirmation is especially important.

7.     Freedom of expression and the respect for those things holy to others are important legal rights. They can exist side by side, just as freedom of expression and the protection against slander and insult.

8.     Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Austria are united in their affirmation to the rule of law, their respect for their fellow citizens and their opinions, and – naturally – in their resolute rejection of terror and violence. We reaffirm the sentence: Bible, Torah, and Coran are books of love, not hate.

9.     Measures to increase security cannot be limited to better equipment for law enforcement authorities: Such measures also have to comprise education and integration policy.