ISTANBUL: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday criticized Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz for its government’s decision to shut down seven mosques and expel 40 imams.
“I am afraid that the steps taken by the Austrian prime minister would bring the world closer to a crusader-crescent war,” said Erdogan during an iftar dinner organized in Istanbul.
Erdogan said Turkey would respond to the decision of expelling imams as well.
During a news conference with Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and EU Affairs Minister Gernot Blumel, Kurz said the move came as part of a crackdown on “political Islam”.
Kurz said that the investigation on several mosques and associations conducted by the Ministry of Interior and Office of Religious Affairs had been concluded and that the activities of seven mosques were found to be forbidden — one of them belonging to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB).
The Austrian chancellor added that the imams would be deported on grounds of being foreign funded.
In 2015 when Kurz was Austria’s minister for Europe, integration and foreign affairs he backed Austria’s “law on Islam” (Islamgesetz) — legislation that, among other things, banned the foreign funding of mosques and imams in Austria. The controversial law, which eventually passed through parliament, was intended to develop an Islam of “European character”, according to Kurz.
“We act decisively and actively against undesirable developments and the formation of #parallelsocieties — and will continue to do so if there are violations of the #law on Islam,” Kurz wrote on his Twitter account.
Crackdown on terrorism
Erdogan also promised to eliminate terrorism completely.
The president said being Kurd and being terrorist were “completely different things”.
Erdogan said that while the government was trying to involve Kurdish people in society, terrorists continued to occupying neighborhoods.
“When guns are fired, words fail. That is why our fight against terrorism will continue until the last terrorist is neutralized,” he said.
Erdogan then recalled the murder of Kurdish teen Yasin Boru.
“Was not Yasin Boru a Kurdish teen? 15-16 years old. What was he doing? Delivering aid to Kurdish people in need. They killed him viciously. Who were they? So-called Kurds. They were not. They were terrorists,” he said.
On Oct. 5, 2014, 16-year-old Yasin Boru and his friends, Ahmet Dakak, Riyat Gunes and Hasan Gokguz, who were distributing food aid to Syrian refugees, were chased down and lynched by alleged pro-PKK supporters on the second day of Eid al-Adha.