Monday, 18 June, 2018

Austria to expel clerics

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz Vice Chancellor Heinz Christian Strache and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl attend a news conference in Vienna Austria Kurz shuts down mosques, takes aims at ‘political Islam’
Jeannette Daniel | 10 June, 2018, 12:40

Austria's government said Friday it will close seven mosques, and plans to expel imams in a crackdown on "political Islam" and foreign financing of religious groups.

"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. According to him, will be closed two mosques in Upper Austria, one in Carinthia and four in Vienna.

After the European nation announced its decision, Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lashed out at Austria and said its policy was "Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory".

Junior partner in Austria's coalition government, Kicki of the Far-right-freedom party (FPOe) said, he circle of people possibly affected by these measures - the pool we are talking about comprises around 60 imams.

Although Austria is now home to an estimated 600,000 Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin, the relationship between both countries have always been strained, with Kurz calling on the European Union to break off negotiations on Ankara adding to the estrangement.

Speaking to reporters in the Black Sea province of Ordu, Ali Erbas, head of Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said: "This decision that the Austrian government has taken, it is a very wrong decision".

More news: Anthem Release Date Set for February 2019

Kurz said the investigation started as images emerged of young boys wearing Turkish uniforms marching, saluting and waving Turkish flags.

Austrian authorities were investigating whether the imams in question breached Austrian law by accepting foreign funds.

They are run by an organisation called the Arab Religious Community, which the government has also ordered to be shut down.

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

"We condemn Austrian politicians, especially Chancellor (Sebastian) Kurz, for trying to achieve political interest from these alarming developments, rather than fighting racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia and the rise of the extreme right", Xinhua quoted Turkish Foreign Ministry as saying.

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