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Catholic leader opposes recognizing Jewish and Muslim holidays

By Mason White 2:36 PM April 5, 2013
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn 

By: Shifra Unger
A leader of the Catholic church is opposed to official recognition of Jewish and Muslim holidays, according to press reports in Austria.

The Archbishop of Vienna, Austria, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, has spoken out against suggestions to add high Jewish and Muslim holidays to the list of official holidays in Austria.

“Both the Jewish and the Muslim community are not sufficiently large in Austria that the holidays should be holidays for the entire population,” he said in an interview with a local television news station.

Since 80 percent of the country’s population is Christian, mostly Catholic, Schonborn said it was “necessary to take into account the views of most people in the country.” The Catholic leader was responding to calls from Muslim leaders to declare one day during Ramadan and the Eid al-Adha day as national holidays.

The general secretary of the Jewish Community in Vienna, Raymond Fastenbauer, told the newspaper that the community supported the idea of turning Jewish holidays into national holidays, but this idea was rejected because of objections by the people involved in trade.

“I don’t think it is appropriate for a country to declare any religious holiday as a national holiday. Religion and government should be kept completely separate,” Julian Pichler, 36, an aspiring politician in Vienna, Austria told
The Islamic Religious Community in Austria estimates that there are between 400,000 and 500,000 Muslims in Austria. The country has about 8.5 million inhabitants. There are About 15,000 Jews living in Austria, mostly in Vienna.