Austria’s new government, which includes the far-right Freedom Party, has started a clampdown against “political Islam”, announcing the closure of seven mosques and plans to expel up to 40 imams from the country.
The steps will affect imams who receive financing from Turkey, according to the government. Four out of the seven mosques targeted are in Vienna.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Austria took pride in its cultural diversity but warned that “parallel societies have no place in our country”. He became chancellor in December after striking a coalition agreement with the Freedom party, which is one of Europe’s most established nationalist and Eurosceptic political movements.
Under the coalition deal, the Freedom Party took control of the defence and interior ministries, giving it control over Austria’s security services as well as immigration policies.
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.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said the new policy was part of an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.
“The Austrian government’s ideologically charged practices are in violation of universal legal principles, social integration policies, minority rights and the ethics of co-existence,” Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.
The ministers at the news conference said up to 60 imams belonging to the Turkish-Islamic Union for Cultural and Social Cooperation in Austria (ATIB), a Muslim group close to the Turkish government, could be expelled from the country or have visas denied on the 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.
The United States also has laws meant to protect the Republic from subversion of the Constitution, they deal with sedition. Imams across America, at mosques in nearly every state, have led sermons espousing that Islamic sharia law is supreme to the law of the land from which they speak. Several of these mosques, or “Islamic Centers”, have long histories of producing terrorists, such is the Islamic Center of Boston and the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Falls Church Virginia. Is it time for the US to close a few mosques, by simply enforcing existing sedition laws?