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Spreading the faith No Koran distribution in Zurich after all

The group plan to distribute copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday.

(Keystone)

The planned distribution of Koranic literature by an Islamic group will not be taking place in Zurich, city authorities have said. The application to do so has been withdrawn.

On Tuesday, Zurich city officials announced that they had given the green light to an applicant to distribute the material on July 1. This put them at odds with the canton of Zurich, which two months ago recommended banning such campaigns.

In a statementexternal link on Wednesday, the city of Zurich's security department said that the applicant had informed the authorities of his decision on Wednesday morning, after having met with all those involved.

"They have decided to postpone the street campaign until further notice," the statement said.

"The applicant wrote that he recognised that the city of Zurich had upheld religious freedom, even under public pressure. For this reason, as well it being important to them to keep the social peace, they will not be distributing the Koran."

Canton of Zurich's recommendation

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.

Officials had reacted with incomprehension to the city's decision to give the initial go-ahead on Tuesday.  

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 organisation.

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.

Zurich city authorities had argued that there was no concrete proof or decisions pending against the people running the campaign called “Lies!” (meaning “Read!” in English).


swissinfo.ch with agencies/dos, ilj

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