Ankara accuses Austria of racism over mosque ban

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 12.06.2018 00:18

Ankara has accused Austria of racism due to the country's recent decision to shut down seven mosques, including a Turkish one, and because it expelled some imams from the country.

Speaking on Habertürk TV yesterday, EU Minister Ömer Çelik said that Austria poses danger for the continent due to its stance against Islam and the country has become the representative of Islamophobia in Europe.

"There was a hope of normalization with Austria. However, today, we see that the Austrian Prime Minister [Sebastian Kurz] has turned into the representative of Islamophobia and racism," Çelik said, while adding that Kurz is a dreamer that internalized the rhetoric of the far right and has no vision to portray any political capacity.

Kurz said that the investigation on several mosques and associations conducted by the country's Interior Ministry and Office of Religious Affairs had been concluded and that the activities of seven mosques, one of them belonging to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB), were found to be illegal. The Austrian chancellor added that the imams would be deported on grounds of being foreign-funded.

"I'm very concerned for Europe in the upcoming period," Çelik added.

He said that although he usually visits the term presidents of the EU, he will not pay a visit Austria and from now on Turkey disregards the country's presidency.

Indicating that European countries start to lose the manageable societal order when they poison their own societies, Çelik said that the Austrian prime minister poisons the whole of Europe with his policies. He further emphasized that what Daesh is for the Middle East, Islamophobia is the same for Europe.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also slammed Austria's decision to shut down the mosques on Saturday.

Speaking at an iftar dinner organized in Istanbul, Erdoğan warned that the steps taken by Kurz's far-right government might "bring the world closer to a crusader-crescent war."

"You are going to do this, and we're just going to sit idle? We will take some steps too," he said. "The Western world should get their act together."

In 2015, when Kurz was Austria's minister for Europe, integration and foreign affairs, he backed Austria's "law on Islam" (Islamgesetz), legislation that, among other things, banned the foreign funding of mosques and imams in Austria. The controversial law, which eventually passed through parliament, was intended to develop an Islam of "European character," according to Kurz. "We act decisively and actively against undesirable developments and the formation of #parallelsocieties and will continue to do so if there are violations of the #law on Islam," Kurz wrote on his Twitter account.

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