Austria calls for European register of Muslim imams

Austria calls for mass registration of Muslim imams in Europe
2 min read
02 January, 2021
Vienna has now called for European states to follow its lead on registering imams, after the measure came into effect in Austria on Friday.
Austria has faced criticism for its anti-extremism measures [Getty/ Archive]
Muslim clerics in Austria are now required to register with auhtorities following new measures introduced by right-wing Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's government last year.

The measures were introduced after an Islamic State group sympathiser shot and killed four people and injured 23 others in Austria's capital in November.

Vienna has also called for European states to follow its lead on registering imams, after the measure came into effect in Austria on Friday.

"Most imams move through many EU countries, so the security authorities need to know who is preaching what in which mosque at any given time," Minister for European Affairs, Karoline Edtstadler, said in comments published by German newspaper Die Welt on Saturday.

Edtstadler, a member of Kurz's Austrian People's Party, added that a ban on foreign funding of mosques - already imposed in Austria - should be adopted by the 27-member bloc.

EU funds should also be tightly controlled, she told Die Welt, "so strictly controlled in the future that they do not go to organisations and associations that advocate Islamist and anti-Semitic positions." 

Following the November attack in Vienna, Austria proposed a raft of draconinan measures aimed at combatting extremism. The proposals drew criticism from Austria's Muslims and rights groups for allegedly attacking Muslim civil society organisations.

Last month, a bill which proposed to outlaw "political Islam" was revised, replacing the phrase with "religiously motivated extremism". The draft law will create the legal basis for authorities to shut down mosques.

Austria's increased monitoring of its Muslim communities follows similar moves by France. Last year, Paris introduced its controversial 'anti-separatism' law and launched an unprecedented sweep of inspections of mosques.

Terror attacks in both Austria and France have heightened tensions, with EU interior ministers having declared a new "war on terrorism" in the wake of the attacks.

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