Austrian Muslims denounce decision to close mosques and expel imams

Postado Junho 11, 2018

Austrian authorities will shut down seven mosques and several organizations as part of a crackdown on "political Islam", Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced Friday.

Vienna wants to "discredit the religious community", Ibrahim Olgun, president of IGGiOe group, said on Sunday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday strongly criticized Austria's move to close mosques and expel Turkish-funded imams, slamming the decision as anti-Islamic and promising a response.

The policy was not "appropriate to control political Islam" and "will lead ultimately to a weakening of structures within the Muslim community in Austria", he added.

The Austrian government has not produced any "objective justification" for the closures, four of which apply to mosques in Vienna, he added.

"Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country", Kurz said.

The government is also looking into terminating the residency permits of some 40 imams who receive foreign funding, according to Interior Minister Hebert Kickl.

Atib denies there are radical imams working in the mosques concerned, although the association recognised some Turkish finance, which it justified by saying this was a known fact and necessary to ensure adequate training.

Netanyahu and the Austrian leader first met in February this year at the Munich Security Conference, after which the Israeli PM expressed his appreciation of the measures Kurz promised to take against anti-Semitism in his country and for stating that he will support Israel and also try to change Austria's attitude towards Israel during United Nations meetings.

Erdogan faces stiff opposition in presidential and legislative elections on 24 June and the Austrian government has banned Turkish officials from holding meetings in the country ahead of the polls.

But the Green Party pointed out it could serve as a propaganda victory for the Turkish government.

Some 360,000 Austrian of Turkish descent reside in the central European nation, including an estimated 117,000 Turkish nationals.