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Safety concerns Building owner blocks Islamist conference

Members of the Islamic community in Switzerland demonstrate "against terrorism and Islamophobia"

(Keystone)

The owner of Zurich’s World Trade Center will not allow the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland to hold a conference within its walls.

The building’s owner, pension fund BVK, said on Monday the decision followed a detailed analysis of the situation, Swiss newspaper Blick reported. But the Islamic council has an alternative plan for holding the conferenceexternal link and a demonstration.

“We have a plan B,” the council’s spokesperson Qaasim Illi was quoted as saying.

The council obtained a contract to sub-lease the conference rooms through an intermediary, an event management company that directly leased them from BVK. The council could resort to legal measures to force BVK to honour the contract.

'Longing for Peace'

Swiss authorities say they have safety concerns about the conference scheduled for May 6-7. The head of Zurich’s security department, Mario Fehr, said he would monitor the demonstration.

Attorney General Michael Lauber said last year he had opened an investigation into the council’s president, Nicolas Blancho, and Qaasim Illi. The prosecutor said he wanted to determine whether their activities were protected by freedom of expression or amounted to propaganda for a terror group, which is illegal.

The gathering, called “Islam Salam: Longing for Peace 2017”, was expected to draw almost 1,000 people to the World Trade Center in Zurich. Organisers describe it as a peace-promoting reaction to the “inhumane appearance and actions of the so-called Islamic State”.

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