Austria to shut 7 masajid, expel Imams

Vienna: Austria has planned to shut down seven masajid and expel dozens of imams. The country’s coalition government termed the move as a push against radical Islam and foreign funding of religious groups under the premise of Austria’s “law on Islam” – legislation introduced in 2015 banning the foreign funding of religious groups.

According to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, authorities would shut a “hardline, Turkish nationalist mosque” in Vienna and also dissolve a group called the Arab Religious Community. He is quoted as saying “Political Islam’s parallel societies and radicalising tendencies have no place in our country.” It must be noted that Kurz came to power last year after his People’s Party formed a coalition with the anti-migrant Freedom Party.

In April images emerged showing children in Turkish army uniforms re-enacting the World War One Battle of Gallipoli, which led to the action.

The Austrian government says 60 of the 260 imams in the country are being investigated, of whom 40 belong to ATIB, an Islamic organisation in Austria close to the Turkish government.

Of the nine million people living in Austria, 600,000 are Muslims.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, described the new policy as an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.