No: 162, 8 June 2018, Press Release Regarding The Statement Made By The Chancellor Of Austria Mr. Kurz At The Press Conference Held This Morning

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 08.06.2018

We regret the statement made by the Chancellor of Austria Mr. Sebastian Kurz, at the press conference held together with Vice Chancellor, Federal Minister of Interior, and the Federal Minister for the EU which coordinates Office of Religious Affairs, which announced that our religious officials who are sent by our country to serve under the Turkish Islamic Union in Austria (ATIB) will not be granted residence permits and that seven mosques, including one that belongs to the Turkish community, will be closed. The closure of seven mosques and deporting of religious officials due to trivial excuses is a consequence of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory populist wave in Austria.

We condemn that Austrian politicians, Chancellor Kurz in particular, are trying to take political advantage of these alarming developments, instead of fighting Islamophobia, xenophobia and the rise of the extremist right.

The ideological attitude of the Austrian government is incompatible with universal legal principles, integration policies, minority rights and the ethics of peaceful coexistence. Normalization of Islamophobia and racism in this manner must absolutely be rejected.

On the other hand, embracing of such a discriminatory and populist approach under the direction of politicians devoid of experience and common sense is an alarming development that heralds a negative trend concerning the rise of Islamophobia and racism in Europe.

It is also unfortunate for the EU that an Austria that possesses such a mindset will assume the Presidency of the Council of the EU. This decision is in contradiction with the efforts, in particular by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Austria, to normalize the relations between our countries. It will also undoubtedly not contribute to the integration efforts of the Turkish community in Austria.

Mehmet Vakur Erkul Ambassador
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