Austria to close 7 mosques, expel imams in crackdown

2018-06-08 19:42
People stand in front of a closed mosque in Vienna, Austria. (Ronald Zak, AP)

People stand in front of a closed mosque in Vienna, Austria. (Ronald Zak, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Austria's government said on Friday that it is closing seven mosques and plans to expel imams in a crackdown on "political Islam" and foreign financing of religious groups.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government is shutting a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques.

The actions by the government are based on a 2015 law that, among other things, prevents religious communities from getting funding from abroad. Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said the residence permits of around 40 imams employed by ATIB, a group that oversees Turkish mosques in Austria, are being reviewed because of concerns about such financing.

Kickl said that, in two cases, permits have already been revoked. Five more imams were denied first-time permits.

The conservative Kurz became chancellor in December in a coalition with the anti-migration Freedom Party.

'No place in our society'

In campaigning for last year's election, both coalition parties called for tougher immigration controls, quick deportations of asylum-seekers whose requests are denied and a crackdown on radical Islam. The government recently announced plans to ban girls in elementary schools and kindergartens from wearing headscarves, adding to existing restrictions on veils.

"Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalisation have no place in our country," Kurz told reporters in Vienna. He added that the government's powers to intervene "were not sufficiently used" in the past.

Friday's measures are "a first significant and necessary step in the right direction", said Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the Freedom Party's leader. "If these measures aren't enough, we will if necessary evaluate the legal situation here or there."

Austria's move angered the government in Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesperson said the decision "is a reflection of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country".

"It is an attempt to target Muslim communities for the sake of scoring cheap political points," spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter. He added that "the Austrian government's ideologically charged practices are in violation of universal legal principles, social integration policies, minority rights and the ethics of co-existence".

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    austria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.