Austria said Friday it could expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and their families and would shut down seven mosques as part of a crackdown on “political Islam”, triggering impotent fury in Ankara.
“The circle of people possibly affected by these measures – the pool that we’re talking about – comprises around 60 imams,” said Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the nationalist Freedom Party (FPOe), the junior partner in Austria’s coalition government.
Austria to expel up to 60 foreign-funded imams and shut seven mosques https://t.co/RusVzDt72y
— Defend Europa (@DefendEvropa) June 8, 2018
Kickl was referring to imams with alleged links to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organisation, a branch of Turkey’s religious affairs agency Diyanet.
The interior minister added that the government suspects them of contravening a ban on foreign funding of religious office holders.
The ministry said 40 of them had an active application for extending their residency and that a number of these had already been referred to immigration authorities, where a process for expelling them was underway.
Once family members were taken into account, a total of 150 people risked losing their right to residence, Kickl told a Vienna press conference.
Predictably, Ankara denounced the move.
“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”, presidential…