Austria To Shutdown 7 'Political' Mosques And Expel 40 Imams

| June 8 , 2018 , 16:16 IST

Austria, which has around 6 lakh Muslim inhabitants among is population of 8.8 million people, has announced the shutdown of 7 mosques and expulsion of up to 40 imams, media reported on Friday.

“This is just the beginning,” far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said while addressing the news conference on the shutdown of the Mosques and expulsion of Imams.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz addressing a news conference on the decision of the government said, “Political Islam’s parallel societies and radicalizing tendencies have no place in our country.”

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Chancellor Kurz, in his previous role as minister of integration had oversaw the passing of a tough 'law on Islam in 2015' banning foreign funding of religious groups and establishing a duty for Muslim societies to have “a positive fundamental view towards (Austria’s) state and society”.

From the 260 Imams in Austria, 60 are reportedly being investigated, out of which 40 belong to the ATIB Muslim group which is close to the Turkish government. Majority of the Muslim inhabitants of Austria are Turkish or have families of Turkish origin.

According to the government's statement, one society running a mosque in Vienne influenced by the Turkish nationalist youth group 'Grey Wolves' would be shut down for operating illegally, while an Arab Muslim group running 6 mosques would also be shut down.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin slammed the move as the result of an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.

“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.