Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan predicted “a war” between Christianity and Islam on Saturday after the Austrian government announced it will shut down seven Turkish nationalist mosques in Vienna and possibly expel up to 60 imams.
“You do this and we sit idle? It means we will take some steps too,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul.
“These measures taken by the Austrian chancellor are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent,” he continued, according to the German newspaper Die Welt.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s decision Friday to shut down several extremist mosques and to dissolve an organization called the Arab Religious Community angered Erdogan, an Islamist who considers the Muslim Brotherood an ally. (RELATED: Erdogan Rages Over French Leaders’ Statements On The Quran)
Kurz, a conservative who has espoused nationalist policies, made the decision after an investigation into two Turkish religious organizations, the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations and Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, known as Diyanet.
The investigation was opened after photos emerged showing a group of boys wearing Turkish uniforms and saluting, marching and waving Turkish flags, according to Die Welt. Austria prohibits foreign funding of religious organizations.
“Parallel societies, political Islam and radicalization have no place in our country,” Kurz said Friday in his announcement of the pending mosque closures.
The 60 imams who may be expelled have links to Turkish nationalist groups.
Erdogan has increasingly relied on Muslim organizations in Europe and the U.S. to generate political support abroad. He faces re-election on June 24. (RELATED: Why Is The Head Of CAIR Palling Around With Turkey’s Ambassador?)
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