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Kurz defends probe into Islamic nurseries

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Kurz defends probe into Islamic nurseries
Sebastian Kurz (centre). Photo: Photo: Ministry for Integration, Europe and Foreign Affairs
11:13 CET+01:00
Austria's Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) has been defending a controversial study into Islamic kindergartens, which has prompted him to call for the immediate closure of "many Islamic kindergartens" and insist on tighter controls to prevent radicalization.

He told ORF television that he believed the study was necessary because there is a danger that “parallel societies are emerging". He said it had been difficult to carry out the survey and that the city of Vienna had not been very cooperative.

He said that he had discovered that one nursery had invited a Salafist to visit as a guest of honour, that some of the kindergartens were teaching aspects of Sharia law, and that there were serious inadequacies in the way some kindergartens taught German.

Vienna councillor Sonja Wehsely has asked Kurz to hand over a list of the kindergartens that have been identified as problematic, so that they can be dealt with as soon as possible.

Kurz has gone so far as to say that he finds it worrying that Islamic kindergartens exist at all, and that he is concerned that children that attend such nurseries could end up feeling excluded from Austrian society.

He said the study shows that in Vienna in particular kindergartens are not inspected often enough, and teachers do not speak good enough German. According to the author of the study, Ednan Aslan, a professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies at Vienna University, there are only four inspectors in Vienna for a total 842 kindergartens.

Kurz has called for changes in the Law on Kindergartens. Social Democrat (SPÖ) politicians have criticised Kurz, saying that the preliminary results of the study lack enough facts to back up his assertions.

The Vienna Social Democrats recently announced that they would be introducing a religious guide and set of rules for all religious institutions, including kindergartens. These have been put together after consultation with kindergarten heads and experts and the network against radicalization.

The head of the Islamic Religious Community (IGGiÖ), Fuat Sanac, has said that he is disappointed that only Muslim kindergartens were scrutinised in the study - which he slammed as being "undemocratic and inhumane". He added that it was ridiculous to accuse some kindergartens of having a radical Islamist background.

Meanwhile, according to a report in Format magazine the owner of several Islamic kindergartens in Vienna is currently being investigated by the state prosecutor for alleged fraudulent use of state funds.

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