Austria to shut seven ‘political’ mosques and expel imams

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A mosque in Austria, file pic, 13 Oct 17 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The seven mosques slated for closure have not yet been named

Austria has announced it will close down seven mosques and expel several imams funded by foreign countries.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the move was a crackdown on political Islam.

The government says 60 of the 260 imams in Austria are being investigated by the Austrian authorities.

Some mosques are suspected of links to Turkish nationalists. In April images emerged showing children in Turkish army uniforms re-enacting the Battle of Gallipoli during World War One.

Austrian media report that the re-enactment included children playing dead and covered with Turkish flags, inside a mosque run by a Turkish Islamic welfare organisation called ATIB.

“Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation tendencies have no place in our country,” said Chancellor Kurz on Friday.

The authorities have been working with a Muslim community body called IGGÖ to identify mosques and imams suspected of radical Islamist or nationalist connections.

Austria’s public broadcaster ORF says one of the seven mosques, in Vienna-Favoriten, has been linked to photos of children doing the Grey Wolves greeting. The Grey Wolves is a far-right Turkish nationalist group, with branches in several countries.

Three of the mosques earmarked for closure are in Vienna, two in Upper Austria and one is in Carinthia.

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