In a crackdown on politically-motivated Islamic activity, Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz said Friday seven mosques will be shut down and 40 Islamic leaders expelled from the country.
The chancellor’s move follows an investigation into the mosques that found some have links to Turkish nationalists. One belonged to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations, or ATIB, Kurz said at a news conference Friday.
Out of Austria’s 260 imams, 60 are being investigated — and 40 belong to ATIB, Kurz said.
Officials said the imams will be deported because they are foreign-funded, a provision that became criminal in Austria three years ago.
“We act decisively and actively against undesirable developments and the formation of parallel societies — and will continue to do so if there are violations of the law on Islam,” Kurz said in a tweet.
Turkish presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin tweeted Austria’s decision is “a reflection of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country.”
“It is an attempt to target Muslim communities for the sake of scoring cheap political points,” he said. “Efforts to normalize Islamophobia and racism must be rejected under all circumstances.”
By Susan McFarland