News World Austria plans to shut down mosques, expel foreign-funded imams

Austria plans to shut down mosques, expel foreign-funded imams

Austria’s right-wing government plans to shut down seven mosques and expel up to 40 imams in what it said was “just the beginning” of a push against Islamist ideology and foreign funding of religious groups.

The coalition government, an alliance of conservatives and the far right, came to power soon after Europe’s migration crisis on promises to prevent another influx and clamp down on benefits for new immigrants and refugees.

In a previous job as minister in charge of integration, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz oversaw the passing of a tough “law on Islam” in 2015, which banned foreign funding of religious groups and created a duty for Muslim societies to have “a positive fundamental view towards (Austria’s) state and society”.

“Political Islam’s parallel societies and radicalising tendencies have no place in our country,” Kurz told a news conference outlining the government’s decisions, which were based on that law.

Austria, a country of 8.8 million people, has roughly 600,000 Muslim inhabitants, most of whom are Turkish or have families of Turkish origin.

One society that runs a mosque in Vienna and is influenced by the “Grey Wolves”, a Turkish nationalist youth group, would be shut down for operating illegally, the government said in a statement.

An Arab Muslim group that runs at least six mosques would also be shut down, it added.

“This is just the beginning,” far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache told the news conference held by four cabinet members.

The ministers said up to 60 imams belonging to ATIB, a Muslim group close to the Turkish government, could be expelled from the country or have visas denied on grounds of receiving foreign funding.

A government handout put the number at 40, of whom 11 were under review and two had already received a negative ruling.

Top Stories

Coronavirus: 109 new cases, two deaths on Tuesday

The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced the death of two people in Cyprus due to Covid-19. This raises the Mediterranean island’s death toll from the...

Health Minister to announce process of covid measures relaxation on Wednesday

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Wednesday will announce the way the strict coronavirus measures now in effect in Cyprus will be gradually relaxed after...

Scientists in Greece find 20 million year-old petrified tree

Greek scientists on the volcanic island of Lesbos say they have found a rare fossilized tree whose branches and roots are still intact after...

Turkey bans parties at ski resorts after Covid curfew backlash

Turkey has banned music and parties at ski resorts after footage of crowded party scenes provoked anger in a country which has endured two months...

EMGF Agreement set to be ratified on Thursday

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday decided to speed up the ratification of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Statute of the East Mediterranean...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...