Austria plans to shut down mosques, expel foreign-funded imams
Austria’s right-wing government plans to shut down seven mosques and expel up to 40 imams in what it said was “just the beginning” of a push against Islamist ideology and foreign funding of religious groups.
In a previous job as minister in charge of integration, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz oversaw the passing of a tough “law on Islam” in 2015, which banned foreign funding of religious groups and created a duty for Muslim societies to have “a positive fundamental view towards (Austria’s) state and society”.
“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.
Austria, a country of 8.8 million people, has roughly 600,000 Muslim inhabitants, most of whom are Turkish or have families of Turkish origin.
One society that runs a mosque in Vienna and is influenced by the “Grey Wolves”, a Turkish nationalist youth group, would be shut down for operating illegally, the government said in a statement.
Authorities said an Arab Muslim group that runs at least six mosques would also be shut down.
“This is just the beginning,” far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache told the news conference held by four cabinet members.
The ministers said up to 60 imams belonging to ATIB, a Muslim group close to the Turkish government, could be expelled from the country or have visas denied on grounds of receiving foreign funding.
A government handout put the number at 40, of whom 11 were under review and two had already received a negative ruling.