Vienna closes mosques

Austria has ordered the closure of seven mosques and the expulsion of up to 40 imams belonging to the European-Turkish Islamic Union, which has close ties with the Turkish government. The order comes as part of a bid to counteract radical tendencies and enforce the ban on foreign financing of religious groups, Chancellor Kurz announced. Is this the way to thwart the enemies of democracy?

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Delo (SI) /

The measures could backfire

Austria's plans to close down seven mosques and deport up to 40 imams may achieve the opposite of the intended effect, writes Delo:

“The potential consequences of such measures for society are worrying. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz may have said that these measures were a bid to stop the formation of parallel societies. But sometimes a policy based on discriminatory laws creates precisely what it was supposed to prevent. Social exclusion, or simply the sense of being socially excluded, is generally the reason why parallel communities arise in the first place.”

Milliyet (TR) /

Fight extremists with juristic instruments

Milliyet would also have liked to see Vienna take a different approach:

“You can't say that there are no 'violent organisations acting in the name of Islam' in Europe. But closing down mosques and deporting clerics is not the solution. Intelligence agencies and security forces must track down those responsible and put them on trial. Those who are seriously suspected of accessing dubious funding should also be handed over to the judiciary. Only those who receive legitimate and official salaries from their home country should be informed that from now on they must earn their money from domestic sources, otherwise they must discontinue their professional activities. This is the approach that conforms to a constitutional state, human rights, laws and religious freedom.”

Spiegel Online (DE) /

Important step against enemies of democracy

Austria's behaviour is completely understandable, Spiegel Online writes:

“Yes, one can criticise the annoying theatrics with which the government announced its plan. One can criticise it for raising its voice simply because it's greedy for applause. ... Nevertheless this decision must not be criticised in a knee-jerk fashion just because it meets populism with populism. Taking action against Turkish nationalistic Islamists and Salafists is by no means an 'expression of an Islamophobic, racist and discriminating wave' sweeping over Austria. Nor is it an 'attack on Muslim communities' or an attempt to 'make political hay', as Erdoğan responded through his spokesperson in an equally theatrical move. Rather, it's a step against the enemies of democracy and freedom.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Declaration of war on Muslims

The initiative by Chancellor Kurz and his government is downright dangerous, Der Standard counters:

“In today's abbreviating and oversimplifying world, snappily blaring something into the microphone the way the chancellor and vice-chancellor have done - and what's more on such a sensitive issue as attitudes towards Islam - is a very dangerous affair. Because what will people retain from the government's initiative against Islamic law? 'The Christians are boarding up our mosques', Muslims in Turkey, Europe and Indonesia are hearing. It's a declaration of war, inadequately explained to the Muslim world and clumsily timed, coming as it does shortly before the end of Ramadan.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

Religious freedom nothing but a farce

This step is highly questionable not only in legal terms, the pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah writes:

“It is in violation of the constitutional principle of equality and Austrian jurisprudence on the financing of religious communities. ... Muslims across the European continent, especially in Austria, struggle with rising xenophobia every day. European Muslims know perfectly well that the continent has a problem with them rather than their mosques. When it comes to Muslims, it seems Europe stops caring about human rights, freedom of thought and religious liberties.”