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The Austrian authorities will close 7 60 mosques and deport the imams

10 June 2018

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday that the government is planning to shutter seven mosques and expel dozens of imams from the country.

The Austrian authorities closed seven mosques in the country and send overseas a large number of imams, said the Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

"Political Islam's parallel societies and radicalizing tendencies have no place in our country", said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who, in a previous job as minister in charge of integration, steered the Islam bill into law. Six of the seven mosques are being closed on suspicion of links to Islamic extremism.

Press Secretary of the President of Turkey today challenged the decision of Austria as "anti-Islamic" and a "racist" move.

The clampdown comes after Austria's religious affairs authority investigated images published in April of children in a Turkish-backed mosque playing dead and reenacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli.

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Kalın, spokesman for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, suggested the decision was part of efforts to "normalise Islamophobia and racism", which he said must be rejected.

Austria is home to about 600,000 Muslims and majority are known to be of Turkish descent.

But many imams working in those organizations do so through the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation, known by the initials ATIB, and are civil servants of the Turkish government.

The mosque in question was run by ATIB.

Officials said the imams will be deported because they are foreign-funded, a provision that became criminal in Austria three years ago.

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Six mosques of the group Arab Religious Community will be closed due to their radical Islamist teachings, and a "hardline Turkish nationalist" mosque in Vienna is going to be shut down because if its promotion of Turkish nationalism.

The seventh mosque affected is a separate case.

"It's important that [religious] values are not abused through political indoctrination", Heinz-Christian Strache, Austria's vice chancellor and leader of the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) party, said.

There is friction between them and Germany, which took in about one million mainly Muslim asylum seekers in 2015.

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The Austrian authorities will close 7 60 mosques and deport the imams