Austrian parliament votes to close mosques backed by Turkish state

"Radicalization and political Islam have no place in our country"


The Austrian Parliament voted on Wednesday to close mosques run by Turkey’s state religious directorate and a Turkish political Islamist organisation.

The decision to close the mosques run by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) and the National Outlook (Milli Gorus) movement was approved by a large majority in Wednesday’s vote, Austrian Green Party lawmaker Berivan Aslan said in a tweet.

The motion to shut down the mosques said they had been used “as party headquarters for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rather than as places of worship,” Aslan said, referring to Turkey’s ruling party. “The Social Democrats did not support the decision,” she added.

A large number of the 700,000 Muslims living in Austria are of Turkish origin, and many of them are Turkish nationals. Over 70 percent of expat Turkish voters in the country backed the AKP in the general elections last year.

Diyanet, Turkey’s state religious body, has received large boosts to its funding under the AKP, and has used it to extend its reach in Europe. Turkish imams were caught spying for the Turkish government in Germany in 2017, and the next year the Council of Europe began investigating foreign funding of mosques in European states.

A right-wing coalition gained power in Austria in 2017, amid a backlash against immigration and rising Islamophobia.

Turkish officials condemned a decision last year by Austria to shut seven mosques in a crackdown on political Islam.

The decision came after images circulated of young boys marching in camouflage outfits and saluting Turkish flags at a mosque run by a branch of Diyanet and the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations.

“There is no place for parallel societies, political Islam and radical leanings in our country,” former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said regarding the mosque closures.

Austria goes to the polls to elect a new government in legislative elections on Sunday.

Kurz shuts down mosques, takes aims at ‘political Islam’


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