Turkey’s President Erdogan warns the world is heading towards ‘a war between the cross and the crescent’ after Austria closes mosques linked to radical Islam

Monday, June 11, 2018
By Paul Martin

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday there could be a ‘world war’ in the future
The Austrian government announced on Sunday it would be expelling 60 imams
But the Turkish President said the move was ‘anti-Islamic’ and driven by ‘racism’

11 June 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit back at Austria on Saturday after the country moved to expel several imams accused of spreading radical Islam.

The President warned of a global war between Christians and Muslims as he blasted Austria’s move to close mosques and expel Turkish-funded imams.

Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul: ‘These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent.’

His comments came the day after the Austrian government announced it could expel up to 60 Turkish-funded imams and their families and would shut down seven mosques as part of a crackdown on ‘political Islam’, triggering fury in Ankara.

Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the junior partner in Austria’s coalition government said the move concerned imams with alleged links to the Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations (ATIB) organisation, a branch of Turkey’s religious affairs agency Diyanet.

Kickl added the government suspects them of contravening a ban on foreign funding of religious office holders.

A Turkish presidential spokesman had on Friday described the Austrian move as ‘a reflection of the anti-Islam, racist and discriminatory populist wave in this country’.

However, other European far-right leaders welcomed the announcement.

Even Austria’s opposition parties were broadly supportive of Friday’s announcement, with the centre-left Social Democrats calling it ‘the first sensible thing this government’s done’.

But the Green Party pointed out it could serve as a propaganda victory for the Turkish government.

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