While Muslims around the world are observing the holy month of Ramadan and gearing up to celebrate Eid, Austria has made headlines for its move to shut down seven mosques. Additionally, the nation is also seeking to expel dozens of imams in what it says is "just the beginning" of its crackdown against radical Islam.
Austria is home to about 600,000 Muslims and most of them are known to be of Turkish descent. After the European nation announced its decision, Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lashed out at Austria and said its policy was "Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory."
"Austria's decision to close seven mosques and expel imams is a reflection of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country. It is an attempt to target Muslim communities for the sake of scoring cheap political points," Kalin wrote on Twitter.
"The Austrian government's ideologically charged practices are in violation of universal legal principles, social integration policies, minority rights and the ethics of co-existence. Efforts to normalize Islamophobia and racism must be rejected under all circumstances," he added.
Explaining Austria's decision, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Austria was very clear about its policies and that there was no place for "parallel societies and radicalising tendencies" in the country.
Six of the seven mosques that have been ordered to shut down are operated by Arab Cultural and Religious Community and most of them are said to be in Vienna. One mosque – also in Vienna – is operated by a far-right group called the Gray Wolves, and is considered illegal even by the main Islamic organization of Austria, according to the New York Times.
The Austrian government is known to have been cracking down on a few Muslim organisations, which it believes is violating the laws of the country.
In the year 2017, the European nation also implemented a burqa ban and prohibited all kinds of facial coverings in public including niqabs and burqas, surgical masks, ski masks and clown makeup.
Women wearing full-face veils in public now face a £130 penalty, which is about Rs 11,700.
Just a few days ago, Denmark also banned attires that cover one's face, which includes the burqa and the niqab worn by many Muslim women. While the ban was proposed in 2017, the Danish Parliament voted in its favour on Thursday, May 31.
The law will come into effect on August 1, 2018, and violations will carry a penalty of 1,000 kroner ($156) for first-time offenders and about 10,000 kroner ($1,568) by the fourth violation, reported Reuters.