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Austria Passes Law On Islam Banning Foreign Funding

The Austrian parliament has passed a law banning foreign funding for Muslim organizations and requiring imams to be able to speak German.

The new law aims to reduce the influence of foreign Muslim nations, organizations and funding at a time when concerns are rising about the spread of Islamist extremism.

The legislation also offers Austrian Muslims a mix of increased rights and obligations in practicing their faith.

But the law has generated opposition from Austrian Muslim groups who say the ban on foreign funding is unfair as support from abroad is still allowed for the Christian and Jewish faiths.

The new measures include the protection of religious holidays and training for imams.

Austria's previous "law on Islam" dating from 1912, after the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian empire, had been widely held up as a model for Europe in dealing with Islam.

Turkey's leading Muslim cleric, Mehmet Gormez, has decried the bill as "a 100-year regression," arguing that no complaints have ever been lodged about the fact that Ankara funds many imams in Austria.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP