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Austria to close seven mosques and expel foreign-funded imams

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Vienna: The Austrian government outlined plans on Friday to close seven mosques and expel up to 60 foreign-funded clerics for allegedly promoting extreme ideology and indoctrinating children.

The move is set to affect mosques and imams bankrolled by the Turkish Islamic Cultural Association (ATIB) and came after images allegedly showing children at a mosque dressed in military-style attire, waving Turkish flags and playing dead in a re-enactment of the World War I Battle of Gallipoli, in which the Ottoman Empire was victorious against the Anglo-French forces, reports Efe news.

“Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said here.


The images sparked widespread debate in Vienna amid accusations that ATIB, an organisation closely linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), was spreading ultra-nationalistic ideas.

Austrian authorities were investigating whether the imams in question breached Austrian law by accepting foreign funds.

The Austrian parliament passed a new legislation in 2015 banning the exterior financing of Muslim leaders and places of worship in an effort to crack down on foreign entities influencing Austria’s Islamic community. Around half a million Muslims live in Austria, the majority of Turkish or Bosnian heritage, which makes up an estimated 6 per cent of the overall population.