More changes are coming to Austria as they struggle to deal with the European migration crisis and the constant threat of Islamic terrorism on the continent. The nation is currently led by the government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, coincidentally the same guy our own German ambassador recently called a rockstar. In a move which seemed to come as a surprise even among some of his own supporters, Kurz will be closing more than half a dozen mosques and ejecting dozens of Imams suspected of supporting radical theology, along with the disbanding of other Islamic organization.
Austria’s right-wing government plans to shut down seven mosques and expel up to 40 imams in what it said was ‘just the beginning’ of a push against Islamist ideology and foreign funding of religious groups.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government is shutting a hardline Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques.
His coalition government, an alliance of conservatives and the far right, came to power soon after Europe’s migration crisis on promises to prevent another influx and clamp down on benefits for new immigrants and refugees.
None of this is particularly new territory for Kurz and his allies in Austria. They’ve been concerned over the rising tide of Islamic influence in their part of the continent for some time now and have taken steps to mute it. Austria already has the burqa ban in place, along with several other European countries. (The Danes were the latest to join that club.) And as soon as Kurz took office he had already begun cracking down on incoming migrants, particularly from primarily Muslim nations.
Of course, there will be people up in arms over this, calling Kurz an Islamaphobe, accusing him of suppression of religious freedom or whatever. But this is an apt juncture to remind everyone that our European allies don’t enjoy the same type of fundamental rights and protections from their government as we enjoy in America. That includes freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms and, yes… religious freedom. The governments of virtually every European nation retain the right to take some much more, shall we say… direct actions when they feel threatened.
You can accuse the Austrians of being “nationalists” if you like (that’s an increasingly meaningless word these days, given how it’s being distorted). But Austria has been around for at least 1,000 years. Its people are electing leaders who want to preserve their identity, protect their borders and stave off what they credibly view as a present threat. Don’t be shocked if this isn’t the last country where we see such steps being taken.