Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has promised a crackdown on radical Islam. On Friday, he announced that his government would shut down seven mosques and could expel dozens of foreign-funded imams from the country.
At least one of the mosques the government will close is said to be linked to Turkish nationalists, and the six others are run by a group called the Arab Religious Community.
“This is just the beginning,” far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said at a news conference Friday. The move invokes a 2015 law banning religious groups from getting foreign funding, and the government suspects that as many as 60 imams may need to leave the country.
More than 600,000 Muslims live in Austria, which is home to almost 9 million people. Many of them are of Turkish descent.
The current conservative coalition government in Austria gained support as refugees and migrants have poured into Europe in recent years. The government has since promised to restrict immigration into the country.https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/06/08/austria-shuts-down-seven-mosques-in-what-it-says-is-just-the-beginning-of-a-crackdown/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bb7495139f20
Turkish government spokesman Ibrahim Kalin responded to the government’s announcement Friday and on Twitter accused Austrian leaders of “ideologically charged practices” that he said are “in violation of universal legal principles, social integration policies, minority rights and the ethics of coexistence.”
The move was “a reflection of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country,” Kalin said.
But Kurz’s government insists that the move is intended to protect Austria from radical religious extremism.