The Austrian parliament passed legislation on Wednesday prohibiting foreign funding for Islamic organizations in an attempt at curbing the spread of Islamist radicalism, Newsweek reports.
The law specifically bans foreign funding for imams and mosques from some Muslim nations including Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Under the new legislation, Austria's 450 Muslim organizations must exhibit a "positive approach toward society and the state" in order to continue receiving official authorization.
Sebastian Kurz, Austria's integration minister, said that the new provisions would inhibit specific Muslim countries from exerting "political influence" in Austria via financial mechanisms.
"What we want is to reduce the political influence and control from abroad and we want to give Islam the chance to develop freely within our society and in line with our common European values," Kurz told the BBC on Wednesday.
The new law has received backlash from Austria's Muslim communities, arguing that international support for Christian and Jewish groups is still allowed. However, the legislation appears to target some countries with problematic foreign policies of promoting radical Islamist agendas.
Moreover, the law will initiate university-led education programs for Austrian imams and Muslims will have the right to halal meals in some of the country's main institutions and public schools, including hospitals, prisons, and in the armed forces. Muslim workers in these institutions will also be able to receive spiritual guidance from Islamic religious leaders.