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Turkish religious body chastises Austria for anti-Islamic decision

Speaking to reporters in Turkey's Ordu province on Friday, Ali Erbas, head of Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said: "This decision taken by Austrian government is a violation of human rights and freedom of religion."

The head of Turkey's religious affairs on Friday decried Austria's decision to shut down seven mosques and expel 40 imams.

Speaking to reporters in the Black Sea province of Ordu, Ali Erbaş, head of Turkish Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), said:"This decision taken by Austrian government is a violation of human rights and freedom of religion."

Erbaş added: "I am especially asking for a withdrawal from this decision before it goes into application because all people living around the world have the freedom to live in accordance with their religion."

Earlier on Friday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that seven mosques would be shut down in the country, and that 40 imams would be expelled.

Speaking at a news conference with Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and EU Affairs Minister Gernot Blumel, Kurz said the move was part of a crackdown on "political Islam".

Kurz said that an investigation on several mosques and associations conducted by the Ministry of Interior and Office of Religious Affairs had been concluded and the activities of seven mosques were found to be forbidden -- one of the mosques belongs to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations.

In 2015 when Kurz was Austria's minister for Europe, integration and foreign affairs, he had backed Austria's "law on Islam" (Islamgesetz) -- a 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.

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