19 February 2011
The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (IZRS) has held its yearly meeting, to which the president of the IZRS Nicolas Blancho had invited a number of prominent speakers. Approximately 2000 people attended the conference, where the star of the gathering was the Kuwaiti Sheikh Mishary Rashid Al-Afasy, while around 50 people from anti-Islamic and Christian groups held protests against the conference.
Three of the invited guests in particular led to raised eyebrows at the Swiss State Office for Migration (BFM). The first of these guests was Shefqet Krasniqi, an imam from Pristina, who shocked the Catholic world two years ago with the comment that “Mother Teresa is in hell, as she was not a Muslim.” The second was Yusuf Estes, who was an Islamic chaplain in US prisons, and who fights against public schools for Muslim children, arguing instead for Qur’an schools. Finally, there was Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist and former Taliban hostage, who converted to Islam following her kidnapping and now supports the Muslim brotherhood.
The yearly meeting was promoted by a youtube video which shows the word “Islam” followed by other words such as “Hate,” “Attack,” “Forced Marriage,” and “Honor Killings,” after which appears “Where are our rights? Who stands up for us?” According to IZRS spokesperson Abdel Azziz Qaasim Illi, the theme of the conference was “how to bring together in harmony Islamic identity and the modern era.”
November 29, 2010
Precisely one year following the Swiss referendum banning minarets in 2009, the Swiss Islamic Central Council (IZRS) has announced that it wishes to hold another national referendum in order to remove the minaret ban from the constitution. No other Muslim organizations were consulted with regard to this plan, which had been kept secret due to tactical considerations.
Leaders of the IZRS stated that not even a ruling against Switzerland in the European Court of Human Rights would achieve would Muslims in Switzerland need, and that only way to fight the ban is by holding another referendum. Oscar Bergamin, political consultant for the IZRS, believes that there are good chances to win a second referendum, since the ban is discriminatory and unfairly singles out Muslim places of worship.
The very same day that the IZRS made their announcement, the Anti-Minaret Committee led by Ulrich Schüler of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) presented a manifesto in Berne against the Islamicization of Switzerland. The document emphasizes Switzerland’s Christian heritage and gives voice to the group’s frustration that the government has not been implementing the minaret ban, especially in the case of the Langenthal minaret project. The document goes on to denounce all practices of sharia law, and calls for all Muslims wishing to become Swiss citizens to pledge allegiance to the constitution and the laws of the country.
A newly-founded Islamic Central Council of Switzerland says it aims to be the main grassroots Muslim organization in the country. The group currently has about 500 members and hopes to win a total of 10,000 participants by the end of 2011, according to spokesman Qaasim Illi. The group represents the orthodox Sunni Muslims and has launched a public information campaign to help re-shape the image of Muslims in Switzerland. It seeks to win broad recognition among the Muslim community and help institutionalize the Islamic religion in Switzerland, officials said.
In the wake of the anti-minaret vote the group organized a rally in Bern which was attended by an estimated 700 people but did not have the support of any of Switzerland’s main Muslim groups. The event was supposed to host German radical preacher Pierre Vogel, but he was denied entry to Switzerland. The justice ministry did not invite the Islamic Central Council to roundtable talks with Muslim organizations in December. The Swiss Council of Religions, a platform for the main Christian churches as well as the Muslim and the Jewish communities said that it would continue to cooperate with the two established Muslim organizations.