MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Austrian parliament passed a bill Wednesday amending legislation on Islam originally passed in 1912 and introducing a ban on the foreign financing of mosques, Wiener Zeitung reported.
The new regulation prohibits funding religious institutions from abroad to prevent external influence and guarantees more legal security for Austrian Muslims. The move comes amid increased radicalization of Europeans, who are travelling to Iraq and Syria to join extremist groups.
Muslims, which make up about 6 percent of Austria’s total population, are granted specific rights and duties under the new legislation. The law also covers religious holidays and training programs for imams.
"What we want is to reduce the political influence and control from abroad and we want to give Islam the chance to develop freely within our society and in line with our common European values," Sebastian Kurz said.
However, the bill has encountered heavy criticism from the Muslim community in Austria as well as worldwide. Turkey’s head of the Directorate for Religious Affairs Mehmet Gormez told ORF-Radio on Tuesday that the legislation would push Austria “100 years back” in terms of religious freedom. Gormez declared opposition to the ban of foreign funding and stressed that the legislation threatened the unity of Muslims.
According to the Austrian media, about 60 out of 300 country’s imams are sent from Turkey through the Austrian Turkish Islamic Union (ATIB), country’s largest Muslim umbrella organization.