Brussels (Brussels Morning) Austria proposes an EU register of imams in an effort to crack down on jihadism following last year’s attacks within the bloc, DW reports.
Registration of imams has been mandatory in Austria since the start of the year, one of the new measures the government put in place in the wake of the 2 November jihadist attack in Vienna.
In the Vienna attack, a jihadist killed four civilians and injured 23. After that attack and comparable atrocities in France, EU interior ministers announced a crackdown on terrorism.
Karoline Edtstadler, Austria’s Minister for the EU and the Constitution, in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt on Saturday, was unequivocal in stating why it was important to maintain such a register. “Most imams move through many EU countries, so the security authorities need to know who is preaching what in which mosque at any given time.”
EU funds should be controlled strictly, she said, in order to prevent money going to associations and organisations that advocate Islamism and anti-Semitism. The EU should emulate the Austrian ban on foreign financing of mosques, Edtstadler observed. EU member states should improve data exchange and cooperation between relevant authorities so as to strengthen the fight against terrorism, she added.
New measures in Austria
Besides the registry of imams, which the Islamic Religious Community in Austria is to maintain, the government has expanded the list of banned symbols associated with extremist groups.
Austria also amended its criminal law and established a registry of terrorists with the aim of imposing permanent bans on the purchase of weapons and limiting employment in security-critical areas for offenders.
The authorities also have introduced pre-release conferences so that courts will be provided with the requisite information to help them determine appropriate release conditions for terrorism-related detainees.
In addition, Austria plans to revoke Austrian passports of terrorists with dual citizenship. A draft law is to be presented later this year.