Austria closes seven mosques and expels imams

Austria closes seven mosques and expels imams

In the fight against political islam, austria wants to expel numerous imams and thus take a much tougher line than germany. Moreover, according to chancellor sebastian kurz (ovp), seven out of 350 mosques will be closed down.

"Parallel societies, political islam and radicalization tendencies have no place in our country," said kurz on vienna.

The turkish government reacted empor. The move "reflects the islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country," president recep tayyip erdogan’s spokesman ibrahim kalin criticized on twitter. Government spokesman bekir bozdag went one step further: "this means that the fundamental values on which europe is built have been destroyed."Turkish media spoke of the "scandalous" decision.

The new right-wing conservative government of ovp and fpo wants to tighten controls on muslim institutions in general in the future. The basis for the decision is the islam law of 2015, which requires, among other things, a positive attitude toward the state and society.

40 muslim clerics are currently being specifically investigated to determine whether the ban on foreign funding has been violated in their cases, said interior minister herbert kickl (fpo). These are clerics of the "turkish-islamic union for cultural and social cooperation in austria" (atib). In two cases, it is already clear that imams have been expelled. The authorities are currently targeting 60 of the 260 imams in austria. "We are only at the beginning," said vice chancellor heinz-christian strache (fpo).

Atib confirms that imams in austria were financed from abroad. Spokesman yasar ersoy explained in the o1 "mittagsjournal" that this is necessary because there is no adequate training for imams in austria. Atib represents over 60 clubs with more than 100.000 members throughout austria.

Atib is comparable to the turkish-islamic union of religion (ditib) in germany – in which critics see the extended arm of erdogan. The chairman of ditib is traditionally the religious attache of the turkish embassy in berlin, who is also the highest representative of the turkish religious authority diyanet in germany.

Diyanet is again directly subordinate to the office of the minister-president. Ditib came under particular scrutiny in the months following the attempted coup in turkey in july 2016. Accusations of spying were made against ditib imams, diyanet withdrew several clergymen. Diyanet sends around 1000 imams, who are state employees in turkey, to the ditib mosques in germany.

A mosque in vienna that is said to be under the influence of the turkish "grey wolves," who are classified as extremist and fascist, will be closed because it is operating illegally, it was reported in vienna. The arab cult community with six mosques was also dissolved. According to its own figures, the cult community has around 1,000 members, mainly from egypt and chechnya. The reason for the closure was, among other things, salafist exaggerations by representatives of one of the mosque facilities.

Salafism is a backward-looking, extremely conservative current in islam. His followers refer exclusively to the koran and see themselves as advocates of an unadulterated islam. They reject reforms and any form of modernization. The goal of the salafists is the complete transformation of the state, the legal system and society according to their set of rules – and ultimately the establishment of an islamist "god state.

In germany, the federal government has so far backed cooperation with ditib, despite its close ties to the turkish government, as stephan mayer (CSU), parliamentary secretary of state in the interior ministry, made clear last month. The problems with some imams are "not a barrier that rules out cooperation with ditib for all time," mayer said during a visit to istanbul. Also its ministry is however demanded to demand qualitatsstandards. "We must know who teaches and preaches with us."

Applause for the move in vienna came from the new italian government. Interior minister and vice premier matteo salvini tweeted: "i believe in freedom of religion, not religious extremism. Those who use their faith to endanger the security of a country must be deported." salvini, also head of the right-wing lega, wants to exchange views with kickl soon. "I hope to meet my austrian counterpart as early as next week to discuss a line of action."