Islamists often do not hide it: They love head-count democracy in lands where they make a majority; and hate it in lands where they are in the minority. They would crush other faiths, including different sects and practices of their own faith -- or no faith, for that matter -- where they are in power.
In that happy set-up, the intriguing word "tolerance" is nowhere to be seen. Respect for the minority is too rare a commodity: "This is our land, we are in the majority, we rule and we rule it as we wish; and if you don't like it, go to hell."
Surprisingly (or maybe not), Islamists happen to become dedicated warriors of tolerance, religious freedoms, human rights and all other fancy tags when they live (in their choice of) Muslim-minority countries. Just imagine what could happen if 1.5 million Israelis lived in the Gaza Strip bordering a militarily, economically and technologically mighty, larger, more populous Hamas-ruled Palestinian state with a Jewish minority. Tolerance and rights for the Jews? Would you want to be a Jew there?
Naturally, the Islamist Turkish mind is not programmed to think differently from: "Let's crush the infidels at home and seek broader rights for Muslims in non-Muslim lands in Europe, America and Asia." Pluralism, to their way of thinking, should be the respected norm -- where Muslims are in the minority. The latest Austrian law regulating Islamic practice is no exception to the Islamist's golden rule.
The new Austrian law, passed on Feb. 25, aims at integrating Muslims and fighting Islamic radicalism by promoting an "Islam with an Austrian character." It seeks to reduce outside meddling by prohibiting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in Austria. It also stresses that Austrian law must take precedence over Islamic Sharia law for Muslims living in the country.
The new law regulates at least a dozen separate issues, including relatively non-controversial matters such as Muslim holidays, Muslim cemeteries, Muslim dietary practices and the activities of Muslim clergy in hospitals, prisons and the army. The law also grants official recognition to holidays and commemoration days of the Alevis, the largest Muslim minority faith in Turkey. The Austrian state will finance lessons on the Alevi faith taught at both private and public schools.
"In this respect," writes Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, "the [Austrian] government has met all of the demands put forth by Muslim groups in the country."
But Turkey's Islamists and the state religious authority have once again asked for more rights -- which they meticulously avoid granting to non-Sunni believers in their own country.
Unsurprisingly, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the Austrian bill. "On the one hand you tell about the EU acquis [accumulated legislation], but on the other hand you take steps which totally oppose the EU acquis," said Erdogan.
He further said: "In Switzerland and Austria new regulations pass that [negatively] influence Muslims' lives ... as if this is in favour of Muslims..."
Echoing the same view, Turkey's EU minister, Volkan Bozkir, said: "We cannot accept any harm to Muslims because of this law."
And Professor Mehmet Görmez, head of Turkey's state-controlled, pro-Sunni religious authority, or Diyanet, issued a long statement. Basically, according to Professor Gormez: a) This law does not befit Austria or Austrian history; b) This law is the outcome of the wave of "Islamophobia" that has engulfed Europe, and; c) [His] call to the Muslims in Austria is to display their reactions within the framework of democratic rules.
Once again, the Turks were not shy about displaying their sheer hypocrisy when they demanded "broader rights" for Muslims in two European countries.
From the State Department's 2013 International Religious Freedom report:
"There were reports of abuses of religious freedom, including the imprisonment of at least one conscientious objector for his religious beliefs ... The [Turkish] government did not clarify the legal authority under which the Greek Orthodox Halki seminary could reopen after being closed for more than 40 years ... Some religious groups faced restrictions registering with the government, owning property, and training their members and clergy ... Although religious speech and conversions are legal, some Muslims, Christians, and Bahais faced government restrictions, surveillance, and occasional harassment for alleged proselytizing or providing religious instruction to children ...
"There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Christians, Bahais, many non-Sunni Muslims, including the sizeable Alevi population, and members of other religious minority groups faced threats and societal suspicion. Jewish leaders reported some elements of society continued to express anti-Semitic sentiments. Persons wishing to convert from Islam experienced harassment and violence from relatives and neighbors."
Turkey's Islamists slammed the Austrian law that recognizes [Muslim] Alevi holidays, while they themselves resist calls to recognize the Alevi houses of prayer, or Cemevis, or to grant abstention to Alevi schoolchildren from the compulsory religion classes that essentially teach Sunni Islam.
"Expansion and conquest" make up one the pillars of Islamist doctrine. For that reason, it requires, and overtly or covertly struggles for, "dwindling" non-Muslim populations and rights in Muslim-controlled lands and "expanding" Muslim populations and rights in non-Muslim countries. It is simply futile to expect Islamists to demonstrate a crumb of the tolerance they demand of non-Muslim nations.
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.