A Swiss court has ordered the expulsion of a Muslim preacher accused of giving hate-filled sermons aimed at stirring violence against non-Muslims. The 25-year-old Ethiopian migrant was also charged with circulating pictures of executions. The prosecution demanded a tough sentence saying, “His religious views represent a danger to the public.”
This is not the only incident of this kind in the recent months. In September, another Swiss court revoked the asylum status of a Libyan Muslim preachers for allegedly deceiving the authorities. The preacher, who had claimed US$620,000 in welfare payments from the host country, was seen on video calling for the destruction of the ‘enemies’ of Islam. “Oh Allah, I beg you to destroy the enemies of our religion. Destroy the Jews, Christians, Hindus, Russians (…),” the Libyan preacher told his congregation.
The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation covered the sentencing of the Ethiopian Muslim preacher on Thursday:
A district court in canton Zurich has given a Muslim preacher, accused of promoting violence, an 18-month suspended prison sentence. It also ordered the 25-year-old Ethiopian to be deported and banned from re-entering Switzerland for 15 years.
The preacher was on trial for calling for the burning of Muslims who are not devout enough in their worship.
Police arrested the cleric in October of last year, after receiving reports of the controversial sermon delivered at the An’Nur mosque in Winterthur, in north-eastern Switzerland. The man is also charged with distributing pictures of executions online and of violating labour regulations by working without a permit.
"His religious views represent a danger to the public," the prosecution told the court. But the defendent's lawyer painted a different picture, saying: "He was merely an unsuspecting asylum seeker who had only been in Switzerland for three months. He is no fanatical Muslim."
The An’Nur mosque has long been suspected of radicalizing youth, with media reports saying some worshippers had travelled to Syria to fight in jihad movements. A police raid on the mosque in November 2016 also uncovered four suspected illegal immigrants.
The mass migration from Arab and Muslim counties into Europe has also led to the rise of Islamist activities in the tiny Alpine nation. According to the census data collected in 2013, the Muslim population in the country was over 5 percent. Those figures are expected to rise drastically in the wake of the ongoing migrant influx.
Unlike Germany or France, the rise of Islamism in Switzerland has been met with a strong backlash from the native population. In 2009, a nationwide referendum led to the ban on the construction of minarets in the country, the first of its kind in the West. Though most of the establishment parties are reluctant to support such initiatives, grassroots activism has forced successive governments to take stricter measures. Last year, the country passed a ban on full-face Islamic veil, or burqa; those violating the ban could face a fine up to €9,200.