Aus­tria plans to shut down mosques, ex­pel for­eign-funded imams

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

Aus­tria’s right-wing gov­ern­ment plans to shut down seven mosques and ex­pel up to 40 imams in what it said was “just the be­gin­ning” of a push against Is­lamist ide­ol­ogy and for­eign fund­ing of re­li­gious groups.

The coali­tion gov­ern­ment, an al­liance of con­ser­va­tives and the far right, came to power soon af­ter Europe’s mi­gra­tion cri­sis on prom­ises to pre­vent another in­flux and clamp down on ben­e­fits for new im­mi­grants and refugees.

In 2015 as min­is­ter in charge of in­te­gra­tion, Chan­cel­lor Se­bas­tian Kurz over­saw the pass­ing of a “law on Is­lam,” which banned for­eign fund­ing of re­li­gious groups and cre­ated a duty for Mus­lim so­ci­eties to have “a pos­i­tive fun­da­men­tal view to­wards [Aus­tria’s] state and so­ci­ety.”

“Po­lit­i­cal Is­lam’s par­al­lel so­ci­eties and rad­i­cal­iz­ing ten­den­cies have no place in our coun­try,” Kurz told a news con­fer­ence out­lin­ing the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sions, which were based on that law.

Aus­tria, a coun­try of 8.8 mil­lion peo­ple, has roughly 600,000 Mus­lim in­hab­i­tants, most of whom are Turk­ish or have fam­i­lies of Turk­ish ori­gin.

One so­ci­ety that runs a mosque in Vi­enna and is in­flu­enced by the “Grey Wolves,” a Turk­ish na­tion­al­ist youth group, would be shut down for op­er­at­ing il­le­gally, the gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

An Arab Mus­lim group that runs at least six mosques will also be shut down.

“This is just the be­gin­ning,” far-right Vice Chan­cel­lor Heinz-Chris­tian Stra­che told the news con­fer­ence held by four cabinet mem­bers.

Turk­ish pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the move was the re­sult of an “Is­lam­o­pho­bic, racist and dis­crim­i­na­tory wave” and was an at­tempt to tar­get Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties for po­lit­i­cal gains.

“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,” he tweeted.

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