Vienna archbishop opposes recognizing Jewish, Muslim holidays


(JTA) — The archbishop of Vienna has advised Austria’s government not to add Jewish and Muslim dates to the list of national holidays.

“Both the Jewish and the Muslim community are not big enough in Austria that their holidays should be holidays for the entire population,” Cardinal Christoph Schonborn said March 30 during a television interview for the ORF broadcaster. 

Schonborn said 80 percent of the country’s population was Christian and mostly Catholic.

“It is necessary to take into account the views of the majority of the people in the country,” he said. 

Schonborn was responding to recent calls by Muslim leaders to declare one day during Ramadan and the day of Eid al-Adha as non-working days for Muslims. 

The secretary general of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Raymond Fastenbauer, told the local newspaper Kleine Zeitung that the community supported making Jewish holidays national holidays, but that the idea was rejected because of objections from the business community.

The Islamic Religious Community in Austria estimates the Muslim population in Austria at 400,000 to 500,000 in a country of about 8.5 million. About 15,000 Austrians are Jewish, according to the European Jewish Congress.

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