Swiss police have arrested a man for suspected links to terrorist organisations, the federal prosecutor said on Wednesday. He is one of two suspects, of Turkish origins, being investigated for recruiting people to Islamic State or related organisations.
More than 100 officers searched premises, including a ‘place of prayer’, in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino. The joint raids were part of two separate investigations by canton Ticino prosecutors and the Federal Attorney General’s office.
Ten people have been arrested for allegedly attacking two Muslims from the An’Nur Winterthur mosque for talking to journalists.
The group are alleged to have physically attacked and detained the two Muslims inside the mosque and threatened their families back in November 2016 after they gave information to journalists about an imam who called for non-practising Muslims to be killed.
In November 2016, Swiss police arrested the imam of the an’Nur mosque in Winterthur, in the canton of Zürich, for calling for the murder of Muslims who refuse to participate in communal prayer. The young imam, who had come from Ethiopia, had been in Switzerland for only a short time. The Zurich Federation of Islamic Organizations (Vioz) declared it was “shocked”, and suspended the an’Nur mosque from the federation until further notice: “We are shocked that an imam in one of our houses of prayer called for violence.”
There is little cause for “shock”. Already in 2015, Winterthur made headlines in Switzerland as an emerging center for young Muslims with jihadi ambitions. Four people from Winterthur managed to travel to Syria to join ISIS and a fifth was stopped at the airport in Zürich.
Nancy Holten, a vegan “animal rights” activist, has lived in Switzerland since she was eight years old and she has children with Swiss passports. She meets every requirement to gain citizenship and authorities had no objections at all.
When her fellow residents in the region of Aargau got the chance to weigh on the decision — which is common practice in the country — they overwhelmingly objected.
Swiss federal prosecutors said on Saturday a criminal probe into suspected jihadist propaganda has been expanded to include the leader of the country’s largest Islamic organisation. The office of Switzerland’s attorney general confirmed in an email to AFP that Nicolas Blancho, of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), was under investigation.
Cities in Switzerland are considering banning the distribution of the Koran in an attempt to crack down on radical Salafists proselytising on the streets.
Swiss authorities have been pushed to act after the German government launched raids on 200 sites in a probe against Salafist group “The True Religion” on Tuesday.
Known for its controversial “Lies!” (or “Read!”, in English) programme, in which the organisation hands out German copies of a strict traditionalist version of the Koran, the group have also been active in Switzerland for several years.
Almost two-thirds of people living in Switzerland do not think Islam should be recognised as an official Swiss religion, according to a survey. A similar proportion believes there is no place for Islam in the country.
Asked whether Islam should be granted the same official status as Christianity and Judaism, 61% of 15,617 respondents said “no” or “probably no” in what the Swiss News Agency reports was a representative survey carried out by the Tamedia publishing house. The results were published in Le Matin Dimanche and the SonntagsZeitung.
Of those who were open to a third official religion, 19% said “yes” and 20% “probably yes”.
Almost two-thirds (62%) said there was no place in Switzerland for Islam. In addition, 80% thought Christian values were part of the Swiss identity.
Police descended on the An’Nur mosque on Wednesday morning to conduct a search of the building and three other houses in the area after receiving evidence against four people, Zurich’s public prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The investigation relates to a sermon given by the mosque’s Ethiopian imam on October 21st in which he “called for the murder of Muslims who refuse to participate in communal prayer”, said the statement.
He also called for those present at the sermon to denounce such people.
The imam and three others are now facing criminal proceedings.
The citizens that Switzerland would like to disown
“We are examining whether it would be possible, in specific cases, to withdraw Swiss citizenship from a person of dual nationality who goes off to jihad,” says Léa Wertheimer, a spokeswoman for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). “Following the withdrawal of the person’s passport, the federal police (Fedpol) could then ban the person from re-entering the country and deal with the direct threat they pose to Switzerland.”