Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a press conference the government is shutting down a Turkish mosque and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community, which runs six mosques.
He explained that the decision stems from a 2015 law that bans foreign funding of religious groups and requires Muslim societies to have “a positive fundamental view towards [Austria’s] state and society”.
“Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalisation have no place in our country,” added Kurz.
As reported by Al Jazeera, Austria is home to an estimated 600,000 Muslims, mostly of Turkish origin.
According to Austria’s Culture Minister Gernot Blumel, the Turkish mosque was shut down because of suspected right-wing “extremism” and because the Austrian Islamic Faith Community had not licensed it.
The Arab mosques were accused of preaching Salafi positions and would, therefore, be shuttered, Blumel said. Salafism is a school of theology based on a strict and literal interpretation of Islam.
Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said the residence permits of about 40 imams are under review. The scholars are all employed by ATIB, a Turkish organisation overseeing mosques which the government said had circumvented the ban on foreign funding.
In response, Turkey has harshly criticised Austria’s “anti-Islam” and “racist” policies. “Austria’s decision to close down seven mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country,” Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.