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Austria Plans To Shut Down Mosques, Expel Foreign-Funded Imams

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Austria’s right-wing government plans to shut down seven mosques and may expel dozens of imams in an effort to push back against radical Islam and foreign funding of religious groups.

The move is “just the beginning” of many steps towards restricting Islamic religious freedom in the country, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said Friday at a news conference, Reuters reported.

“Political Islam’s parallel societies and radicalizing tendencies have no place in our country,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The government is shutting down a Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and abolishing a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six other mosques, said Kurz, who is head of the coalition government made up of conservatives and the far-right.

These decisions fall in line with a law passed in 2015 that banned the foreign funding of religious groups and insisted that Muslims in Austria have “a positive fundamental view towards (Austria’s) state and society,” according to Reuters. (RELATED: Immigration Law Forces Muslims To Integrate Into Austrian Culture)

A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erogan deemed the policy as part of an “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave” in Austria.

Austria is home to 700,000 Muslims, most of whom are Turkish or have families of Turkish origin.

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