Dervishes perform in the Votive Church, Vienna|
On November 30, 2007, Muslim whirling dervishes from Turkey perfomed their ritual Sufi dances in the Votive Church, a Catholic church of Vienna, Austria. This Church is famous for holding the tomb of Count Niklas Salm, the victorious commander of the Catholic forces against the Turks in 1529 when the latter had laid seige to the Austrian capital.
The symbolic meaning of this performance was to desecrate the glorious memory of Catholics who fought against Islam. And to signify that the era of militancy in the Catholic Church is over.
The declared meaning was to allow Muslims to commemorate the 734th anniversary of the death of Sufi founder Mevlana Rumi.
The ceremony was promoted by the Archdiocese of Vienna. Opening the Sufi religious ceremony was Fr. Martin Rupprecht, the Archdiocesan dean of priests. Speaking on behalf of Cardinal Christoph von Schonborn, he said in Turkish: "I greet my whirling brothers with heartfelt feelings." He went on to tell the audience that "it was beautiful to see Muslims in a Catholic Church."
The Turkish ambassador to Vienna, Selim Yenet, also gave a speech praising Mevlana Rumi and Mohammed. Around 300 people, both Catholics and Muslims, were present. After the performance, a Muslim Sufi recited verses of the Koran before the altar.
The precedent for such a performance was set in June 2007 when the Vatican itself invited dervishes to dance in the Holy See. Card. von Schonborn, as a faithful disciple of Pope Ratzinger, is just following the example set from the top.