Swiss prosecutors have opened an investigation into the liberal Islam critic Saida Keller-Messahli over libel allegations against a controversial Islamist preacher.
“We opened an investigation against Ms Keller-Messahli on suspicion of slander and defamation”, a spokesperson for Bern’s prosecution office told the Swiss News Agency on Monday. If a complaint is made containing allegations of defamation, the Swiss authorities must automatically take action.
The allegations concern the controversial Libyan imam Abu Ramadan, who was caught up in a media storm last year. Ramadan is accused of having preached messages of hate at a mosque in French-speaking Switzerland.
, criticised the controversial Muslim preacher Abu Ramadan heavily and accused him of having called on God to protect Al-Qaeda and Libyan IS fighters in one of his sermons.
There is an ongoing criminal investigation against Ramadan over racial discrimination charges. Ramadan, who received welfare payments in Switzerland for many years, lost his asylum status but continues to live in Switzerland on a permanent resident permit.
Keller-Messahli, who received the 2016 Human Rights Prize from the Swiss section of the International Society for Human Rights (IGFMexternal link), is an outspoken critic of politicians from the left for ignoring the problem of radical imams because of their priority to protect minorities.
Switzerland doing little about radical preachers, says progressive critic
According to Saïda Keller-Messahli, Swiss authorities and politicians are naive when it comes to identifying ties between Islamic fanatics in Switzerland and abroad.
In an interview with the paper NZZ am Sonntag on Sunday, the founder and president of The Forum for a Progressive Islam called radical preachers “fire accelerators” as they provide the spiritual justification for the use of violence. She said that the majority of Swiss mosques are conservative and their imams Islamist because of foreign support, even though most Swiss Muslims do not identify with this ideology.
She blamed the activities of the Muslim World League, led by Saudi Arabia, for the spread of Salafist literature in Swiss mosques and prisons, as well as financing mosques, Koran schools and imams to spread conservative ideology.
Keller-Messahli, who received the 2016 Human Rights Prize from the Swiss section of the International Society for Human Rights (IGFMexternal link), criticised politicians from the left for ignoring the problem of radical imams because of their priority to protect minorities. She called on authorities to monitor mosques, expel radical imams and prevent their entry into Switzerland, as well as cooperate with other countries and organisations fighting radical preachers. Keller-Messahli suggested the creation of a public register of imams and make it mandatory for them to apply for special authorisation to practice in Switzerland. She also recommended legislation that would curb foreign funding of Islamic institutions, like Austria has recently done.