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Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has called for a "holy war", or jihad, against Switzerland, the AFP news service reported on Thursday.

During a speech in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, Gaddafi declared Switzerland "faithless" and a country of infidels who have "destroyed Allah's house".

In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets in a nationwide vote that raised eyebrows around the world. The rightwing Swiss People's Party and a conservative Christian group were behind the campaign.

Switzerland's foreign ministry has explained to Muslim leaders that the vote was not against Islam and that freedom of worship is still in place.

Hasni Abidi, director of the Study and Research Center for the Arab and Mediterranean World, said Gaddafi has no clout from a religious perspective and is not entitled to declare jihad. His words would carry no weight in the Arab world, he said.

In the past Gaddafi has called for Switzerland to be dissolved. Each of its language regions should be absorbed by neighbouring countries, he said.

Libya and Switzerland have been at odds since the brief arrest of Gaddafi's son, Hannibal Gaddafi, in July 2008 on charges that he and his pregnant wife mistreated their staff while staying at a hotel in Geneva. The charges were eventually dropped.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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