Alwaght- The Austrian government has announced plans to close seven mosques and expel up to 60 imams in a crackdown on what it calls political Islam and Turkish nationalism.
"Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation have no place in our country,” Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, said.
Six of the seven mosques are being closed on suspicion of links to Islamic extremism. They are run by an organisation called the Arab Religious Community, which the government has also ordered to be shut down.
The seventh mosque affected is a separate case. It is to be closed on suspicion of links to the Grey Wolves, a far-Right Turkish nationalist group.
The move comes after images emerged earlier this year of children as young as four being made to wear Turkish army uniforms and salute the Turkish flag inside the mosque in Vienna’s Favoriten district.
Two imams have received deportation orders, and another 60 are under investigation and could face expulsion along with their family members, Herbert Kickl, the Austrian interior minister, said.
Turkey has decried the decision as an "anti-Islam" and "racist". President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Friday that “Austria’s decision to close seven mosques and expel imams 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.”
The Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organization, which runs the Vienna, denounced the photos at the time. It called the move as the "highly regrettable" event, saying it "called off before it had even ended."
Austria, a country of 8.8 million people, is home to roughly 600,000 Muslims, most of whom are Turkish or have families of Turkish origin.
Vienna had also passed a law in May 2017, banning Muslim women from wearing full-face veils such as burqas and niqabs in public.