Gadhafi Calls for Jihad Against Switzerland!
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called on Thursday for a “jihad” or armed struggle against Switzerland, which he called an infidel state that was destroying mosques.
“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against [the Prophet] Muhammad, God and the Koran,” Col. Gadhafi said during a meeting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to mark the prophet’s birthday.
“The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbors and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold,” Col. Gadhafi said.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it had no comment on Col. Gadhafi’s remarks.
The Libyan leader’s comments are the latest move in a long-running clash between Switzerland and Libya. In July 2008, Libya detained two Swiss businessmen, after Geneva police arrested Col. Gadhafi’s son Hannibal for allegedly beating two servants.
A Libyan court later convicted the two businessmen for violation of residency laws, a charge they denied. Swiss diplomats charged that the move was retaliation for the arrest of Hannibal Gadhafi.
Then, last November, Swiss voters approved a referendum to ban the construction of minarets on mosques. Some analysts in Switzerland said they believed the strong vote in favor of the ban—58% of voters supported the referendum—stemmed in part from resentment in Switzerland over the issue of the businessmen in Libya. Soon after the election, Libya’s government-controlled news agency Jana branded the vote “racist.”
But while the vote raised the ire of political and religious leaders in the Muslim world, it hasn’t generated violence or a backlash against Swiss interests abroad, as the Swiss government had originally feared.
After the vote, Swiss efforts to convince Tripoli to release the men failed, and political observers said Libya’s continued refusal to release them was in reaction to the minaret vote. Earlier this week, Libya freed one of the men after a court overturned his conviction on appeal, and he has returned to Switzerland. The other man, Max Göldi, the country head in Libya for Swiss engineering group ABB Ltd., has begun a four-month prison sentence in Libya.
Bern has restricted the granting of Swiss visas to Libyan citizens. That, in turn, has prompted Tripoli to block the entry of some European citizens into Libya. Tripoli has stopped issuing visas to citizens of the Schengen passport-free zone, which includes most of the European Union as well as Switzerland.
On Thursday, Italy said Libya may renege on a deal to help control the flow of undocumented immigrants into the EU because of the visa spat with Switzerland. Libya is often used as a departure point by such immigrants for southern Europe, particularly Italy.
Italy, which has close business links with Libya, has accused Switzerland of misusing the Schengen agreement and taking its members “hostage” by instituting the ban, which had forced other Schengen nations to bar travel by Libyans as well.
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the quarrel put the Schengen zone at risk and could further strain relations with Libya. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf met with EU ministers on Thursday to discuss possible solutions to the travel situation.
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