Austrian populist Transport Minister Norbert Hofer has banned the option for driving tests to be taken in the Turkish language, calling it a waste of government money and resources.
Mr Hofer, who previously ran as a presidential candidate for the anti-mass migration Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) of which he is a leading member, argued that the Turkish language tests were an “unreasonable cost” to the Austrian taxpayer, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Of the 299,687 individuals who took the 80-question driving test last year, 3,631 undertook the Turkish language version. Another 2,243 took their test in Turkish in the first half of 2018 alone.
“The cost of translations of the driving school documents into Turkish should no longer burden taxpayers,” a spokesman from the Transport Ministry said.
Hofer also argued that having the test in Turkish discriminated against other linguistic minorities who did not have the option to take the test in their language saying: “This previous offer to pass the driver’s licence examination in Turkish also discriminates against other ethnic minorities who wanted to have the test translated into Chinese, Arabic, or Albanian.”
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The move comes after heightened tensions between Turkey and Austria following the decision by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to shut down seven radical Islamic mosques, many of which were linked to Turkish groups, and to deport dozens of foreign-funded Turkish association imams.
In reaction to the move, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan predicted a war of the “cross and crescent” stating in a speech: “These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent.”
Erdoğan was overwhelmingly voted back into power in Turkey’s national election in June as polling data showed that some 72.3 percent of Turks in Austria voted for the president leading to Vice Chancellor and leader of the FPÖ Heinz Christian Strache to write on social media: “I recommend all the Turks in Austria who voted for Erdoğan should return to Turkey!”