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    The minaret and the mosque of the Islamic center Vienna pictured in Vienna, Austria

    Turkey Blasts Austria for 'Racist' Move to Close Mosques, Expel Imams

    © AP Photo / Ronald Zak
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    The Austrian government's decision follows the outcome of a probe into photos of children in a mosque backed by Turkey playing dead and reenacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli.

    Turkey's presidential spokesman on Friday slammed the Austrian authorities after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the expulsion of "several" foreign-funded imams and the closure of mosques in a bid to tackle "political Islam."

    "Austria's decision to close down seven mosques and deport imams with a lame excuse is a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country," Ibrahim Kalin tweeted.

    He went on to blame Vienna for "ideologically charged practices" that violate human rights, adding that the "efforts to normalize Islamophobia and racism must be rejected under all circumstances."

    Kurz's announcement was made after an inquiry into photos that were made in an Austrian mosque. The photos depicted boys wearing military uniforms, marching, saluting and carrying Turkish flags in a reenactment of the 1915-16 battle of Gallipoli, which saw the defeat of the allied forces by the Turks during World War I.

    Kurz has been a consistent critic of "political Islam," ordering the development of a "child protection" law banning hijabs in preschools and primary schools, in order to ensure that "children do not face discrimination at that age."

    Moreover, the chancellor has opposed Turkey's accession to the EU, citing "systematic violations of human rights and essential democratic values" by Ankara.

    Currently, about 100,000 Turkish citizens live in Austria.

    READ MORE: Swiss Upper House Rejects Ban on Foreign Funding for Mosques — Reports

    The relations between Austria and Turkey became strained after Vienna hampered Ankara's EU and NATO integration aims.

    Subsequently, Ankara slammed Vienna for including the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), known for its anti-immigration position, in its ruling coalition.

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    mosques, Sebastian Kurz, Turkey, Austria
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