Austria closes mosques and deports imams


Austria closes mosques and deports imams

Markus Salzmann

14 June 2018

The right-wing conservative government in Austria is closing seven mosques and deporting up to 60 Turkish imams. The measure is a fundamental attack on the freedom of religion and expression and serves to stir up anti-Islamic and xenophobic sentiments. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (Austrian Peoples Party, ÖVP), his deputy Heinz-Christian Strache (Austrian Freedom Party, FPÖ) as well as two other ministers announced the measures in person on Friday in Vienna at a press conference.

The government of Kurz’s right-wing conservative ÖVP and the far-right FPÖ justified the closure of the mosques with violations of Austria’s “Islam Act.” They do not want parallel societies and radicalizing tendencies in Austria, Kurz explained.

The government’s action shows that it has now completely adopted the far-right programme of the FPÖ. Their reasoning is reminiscent of the propaganda used to persecute Jews and other minorities 80 years ago, following the “Anschluss” (annexation) of Austria to Nazi Germany.

The basis of the measures is the so-called Islam Act. The Muslim clerics are accused of violating the ban on foreign financing. The government is focusing on the “Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria” (ATIB), an umbrella organization that represents over 60 Islamic associations in Austria with more than 100,000 members. It belongs to the Turkish religious authority Diyanet and thus stands under the control of the Turkish government. The supposed reason for the charge against the association is that it does not work towards “integration” and builds “parallel societies.”

The undemocratic nature of this accusation is shown by a comparison with the Catholic…

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