Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
While the world’s attention was focused on Singapore and the summit between North Korean strongman Kim Jung Un and President Donald Trump, an event happened in Europe that largely went unnoticed. Under orders from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the government ordered the closure of seven mosques and ordered the deportation of some 60 imams, or Muslim religious leaders.
The move was prompted by recent images of children as young as four wearing Turkish army uniforms and forced to salute the Turkish flag inside a Vienna mosque. The Austrian Interior Minister, Herbert Kickl, said these were only the first steps in the government’s effort to crack down on radical Islamic factions within the country.
Six of the mosques are run by a group called the Arab Religious Community. The other is believed to be run by the ultra-nationalist pro-Turkey Grey Wolves. This group was noted for its violence in the 1980’s but now claims to be a cultural and educational organization. Forty of the imams ordered expelled from Austria are associated with the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe, a group closely aligned with the hard line Turkish government of Recep Erdogan, and with the Grey Wolves also.
The move brought a swift rebuke from Erdogan who denounced the move by saying, “These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world to a war between the cross and the crescent.” These are fairly strong and loaded words. They are somewhat hypocritical considering recent events in Turkey.
The Turkish government, in the late stages of talks with the EU over visa-free travel for Turkey’s 80 million citizens, recently seized Christian churches, property and cemeteries in the southeastern city of Diyarkabir. One of the properties seized is over 1,700 years old. They include Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches. The government claims the seizures were necessary to rebuild the cultural center of that city that has seen urban guerilla warfare between the Kurds and the Turkish government. This action follows on the heels of other government seizures of non-Islamic properties, especially those of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
In reaction to Erdogan’s characterization that Austria’s move was “Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory” and an “attempt to target Muslim communities for the sake of scoring cheap political points,” the Austrian Culture Minister responded, “It is not a contradiction to be a devout Muslim and a proud Austrian.” The problem is that throughout Europe, Turkish citizens have become more vocal and, in some cases, more violent in support of Turkey and Erdogan.
Across Europe, the large influx of Muslim immigrants and refugees has led to the formation of large ghettos and, as some describe it, “parallel societies.” In his strongest statement, Kurz said that “parallel societies, political Islam, and radicalization have no place in our country.” Most notable is the fact that the one Muslim group targeted- the Arab Religious Community- has adopted and promoted the extreme Salafi school of Islam which has, in turn, been adopted by such groups as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
If more European countries adopted the stance that Austria has taken, then perhaps Europe would have less terrorism worries. Instead, too many countries seem content to slowly let the continent be taken over by a mindset totally in opposition to Western ideals to the point those ideals will be obscured or obliterated. The opposite mindset from that of Austria seems to be a “bury one’s head in the sand” philosophy.
Recently, Italy elected a right wing government that likewise has said “Enough is enough.” This follows on the heels of other Central European countries- Hungary and the Czech Republic and, to a lesser extent, Slovakia and Poland- taking a stand against the influx of Muslim migrants at the dictates of the EU in Brussels. Whatever the results elsewhere on the continent, the EU and its member states should look warily upon those talks that would allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens lest we witness more Brussels, Manchester, and Charlie Hebdo incidents in the future.