Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed Austria's decision to shut down mosques and deport imams, warning that the measure could trigger a religious war.
Earlier this week, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to order the closure of seven mosques and the expulsion of up to 60 imams, including 40 members of the Union of Turkish-Islamic Cultural Associations in Europe (ATIB).
"These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent," Erdogan said in Istanbul Saturday as he warned of the repercussions of Austria's new anti-Islam policies.
"They say they're going to kick our religious men out of Austria. Do you think we will not react if you do such a thing? That means we're going to have to do something," he added.
On Friday, Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin denounced Austria's decision to close mosques and expel imams as "a reflection of the Islamophobic, racist and discriminatory wave in this country."
The right-wing coalition government of Austria, home to around 600,000 Muslims, has been accused of fanning anti-Islamic sentiments in the European state.
Vienna passed a law in May 2017, banning Muslim women from wearing full-face veils such as burqas and niqabs in public.
Under the law, which came into effect in October 2017, violators face a fine of 150 euros (nearly $180) and police are authorized to use force with people who resist showing their faces.
Similar restrictions, known as the “Burqa Ban,” have been adopted in other European Union countries like, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Denmark also banned garments that cover the face late last month. Those violating the law risk a fine of 1,000 kroner (£118)($158).
The Austrian chancellor insists that the European Union should cease negotiations about Ankara joining the bloc.
Irked by Kurz's stance, Turkey vetoed NATO's cooperation with Austria in May 2017.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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