Austrian govt to decide on future of Saudi-funded center after deputy head's comments

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Austria's chancellor says the government will decide next year whether to renew the contract of a Saudi-funded religious center in Vienna after ruling on whether it is truly supporting interfaith dialogue.

Chancellor Werner Faymann's announcement Tuesday follows criticism of comments by Claudia Bandion-Ortner, deputy head of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.

While saying she opposed Saudi executions, she told a magazine that reports people sentenced to death were executed every Friday in Saudi Arabia were "nonsense." The former Austrian justice minister also compared wearing an abaya — the mandatory, all-covering garment for Saudi women — to donning a judge's robe.

Critics say Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record and lack of religious tolerance should disqualify it from running such an institution.