Austria launches extremist hotline

VIENNA (AFP) - The Austrian government announced on Monday the creation of a hotline and advice centre for people to contact if they suspect a family member, classmate or colleague to be involved with Islamic extremists.

Austria, like other European countries, has seen a stream of young people, some in their teens, leave to join Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, sparking concerns that on returning they may launch attacks.

On Friday, some 900 Austrian police arrested 14 suspected extremist recruiters in nationwide raids on homes, prayer rooms and mosques. Eight were remanded in custody on Monday and six were released but remain under investigation.

The anonymous and multi-lingual new hotline, first announced before last week's raids, represents a "new and very decisive element in the fight against extremism", Family and Youth Minister Sophie Karmasin said.

The government also plans controversial changes to Austria's 100-year-old Islamic Law to crack down on foreign financing of Muslim groups, the banning of ISIS symbols as well as a standardised German-language Koran.