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08 Jun 2018

Austria to shut-down 7 mosques in crackdown on "political Islam"

Austria to close 7 mosques, expel imams

Austria's government said today that it is shutting seven mosques and plans to expel imams in a crackdown on "political Islam."

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

The actions are based on a 2015 law that prevents religious communities from getting overseas funding.

In context

Austria to close 7 mosques, expel imams

Permits revoked

Permits of two imams already revoked

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.

Permits have already been revoked in two cases. Five more imams were denied first-time permits.

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

Kurz says government's powers were not sufficiently used in past

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

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Conservative steps

Austria govt banned kindergarten girls from wearing headscarves

In campaigning for last year's election, both coalition parties called for tougher immigration controls, and quick deportations of asylum-seekers.

The government recently announced plans to ban girls in elementary schools and kindergartens from wearing headscarves, adding to existing restrictions on veils.

Today's measures are "a first significant and necessary step in the right direction," Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the Freedom Party's leader said.

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