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Austrian Muslims denounce mosque clampdown

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VIENNA: Austria´s main federation of Muslim residents (IGGiOe) has voiced its “indignation” after Vienna announced the closure of seven mosques and said it would expel Turkish-funded imams. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had Saturday strongly criticised the move as anti-Islamic and promised a response and the Muslim federation launched a broadside.

Vienna wants to “discredit the religious community,” the group´s president Ibrahim Olgun said.

Olgun said the policy was not “appropriate to control political Islam” and “will lead ultimately to a weakening of structures within the Muslim community in Austria.”

The Austrian government has not produced any “objective justification” for the closures, four of which apply to mosques in Vienna, he added.

Olgun also criticised the government for not informing the federation of the measures in advance and for unveiling them on the final Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Solutions should be worked out together around a table rather than unilaterally on the backs of the Muslim minority,” said IGGiOe, which is to hold its own audit of mosques and personnel affected by the policy before requesting a meeting with the ministry of culture.

Vienna announced Friday that it will close the seven mosques, saying they breached 2015 guidelines requiring “a positive attitude towards the state and society”. Several imams have been accused of preaching radical Islam. —AFP

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