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Austria to shut seven mosques in crackdown over political Islam: Chancellor Kurz

The chancellor-elect, Sebastian Kurz of the conservative People's Party (OeVP), already has a deeply-fractious relationship with Ankara due to his staunch opposition to Turkey's EU bid while serving as foreign minister. Photograph: (AFP)

AFP Austria Jun 08, 2018, 12.44 PM (IST)

Austria will expel "several" foreign-funded imams and shut seven mosques in a crackdown on "political Islam", Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Friday.

Kurz said the moves came after an investigation by the religious affairs authority into images which emerged in April of children in Turkish-backed mosques playing dead and re-enacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli.

"Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation have no place in our country," Kurz said.

The photos, published by the Falter weekly, showed the young boys in camouflage uniforms marching, saluting, waving Turkish flags and then playing dead. 

Their "corpses" were then lined up and draped in the flags.

The mosque in question was run by the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organisation, based in the German city of Cologne, and a branch of Turkey's religious affairs agency Diyanet.

ATIB itself condemned the photos at the time, calling the "highly regrettable" event and said that "called off before it had even ended".

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