SHAFAQNA – The Swiss authorities have charged an imam from Ethiopia with inciting violence by calling in a sermon for local Muslims who refused to pray to be burned alive, prosecutors said on Friday.
The imam was associated with the An’Nur mosque, which had become known as a hub for Islamist extremist activity. Prosecutors in Zurich said in a statement that their colleagues in Winterthur, where the mosque was, had charged him on Aug. 2 with calling for violence and violating immigration law.
Switzerland has been spared the terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists that have hit European countries like Britain, France and Germany, but the Swiss authorities have nonetheless been accused of failing to clamp down swiftly and strongly on radicals.
The man, who was not further identified, in keeping with Swiss privacy law, is charged with calling in a sermon in October for the denunciation of Muslims in the community who did not pray, “and for those who continue to refuse to do so to be killed by burning them in their homes,” prosecutors said.
He is further suspected of sending people graphic images of execution methods that he acquired over social media, they said. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 18 months in prison and then to bar the imam from the country for 15 years.
The imam was detained, along with three others involved in the An’Nur mosque, in November 2016. He remains in custody; the others have been released for lack of evidence.
This year, the Swiss authorities identified more than 500 people with connections to the country who were using social media to propagate extremist ideals.
Switzerland has been seeking to integrate the 450,000 Muslims living in the country and, like many of its European neighbors, has been trying to strike a balance between allowing them freedom of religious practice while encouraging them to accept Western norms. In January, a court in Basel ruled that two Muslim girls must be enrolled in mandatory mixed swimming lessons, despite opposition from their parents.
According to Swiss news media, several men were radicalized at the An’Nur mosque before traveling to Syria to join the militant group Islamic State.
In February, 10 people were arrested on suspicion of attacking two members of the community who had spoken with journalists about the content of a sermon.
The mosque has since closed, Swiss news media reported.
The imam also faces charges of violating immigration law by working in the country in that role for more than four weeks without the requisite permit, prosecutors said.
While mainstream will likely use such news to further anchor the notion that Islam is in fact a nuisance to western values by the violence it speaks against those who do not abide by its tenets or rules, most will fail to point out that it is Wahhabism that has warped, perverted, and decontextualised Islam to the point where its principles have been twisted on their heads.
If Wahhabism continues to preach violence and bloodshed to impose itself as absolute over Islam and the Islamic world its practice remains foreign to that Islam which is spoken in the Quran.
Until such a time when Takfirism is denounced as the root-cause of extremism, there is little hope we will ever offer more than a whisper against terrorism. The issue is rather simple – Islam’s scriptures were hijacked by a bigoted elite for whom power is anchored in dogmatism.