Expatica news

City and canton cross wires in Zurich Koran debate

Two months after cantonal authorities in Zurich recommended banning the distribution of Koranic literature by an Islamic group, the city police have given them the green-light. Confusion or disagreement?

In May, cantonal justice authorities recommended banning the distribution of Korans by a Salafist group called “Die Wahre Religion” (“True Religion”), believing them to be involved in a campaign of extremist recruitment.

Today, however, the city of Zurich, the largest in the canton, rejected their advice. It says the distribution session planned for this Saturday can proceed, as long as no more than five people are involved and they register themselves with police before the event.

Mathias Ninck, a spokesman for the municipal security department, told Swiss news agency, ATS, that by the registration deadline just one person – the initial proposer of the event – had registered himself.

He will thus be the only person authorized to distribute the material on the streets this Saturday; anybody else participating will be prosecuted, Ninck said.

Varied views of a threat

Speaking on Swiss public radio, SRF, this morning, the city representative in charge of security, Richard Wolff, said that there was no concrete proof or decisions pending against the militants running the campaign called “Lies!” (“Read!” in English).

“We need to guarantee fundamental rights and not ban activities without reason,” he said.

The reaction at the cantonal security services was one of incomprehension, however. “We regret that the director of the security division of the city does not wish to prevent the activities of “Lies!”, despite the issued recommendations,” cantonal spokesman Urs Grob told ATS.

The cantonal justice office recommended the ban due to various criminal investigations opened by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against the group, as well as a ban and police raid of the group in Germany last year.

The OAG suspects that “True Religion” – founded by Gaza-born, German Salafist Ibrahim Abou-Nagie – could be guilty of participating in or supporting a criminal organization.

Following the raids on the group in Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the “True Religion” group had persuaded about 140 people to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

swissinfo.ch with agencies/dos