Ten people have been arrested for allegedly attacking two Muslims from the An’Nur Winterthur mosque for talking to journalists.
The group are alleged to have physically attacked and detained the two Muslims inside the mosque and threatened their families back in November 2016 after they gave information to journalists about an imam who called for non-practising Muslims to be killed.
The people aged between 17 and 53 were arrested on Tuesday in Winterthur and the surrounding area. Around a dozen houses were searched.
Criminal proceedings have been opened by the Zurich attorney general against the group for assault, confinement, threats, coercion and bodily harm.
It follows the arrests on November 2 of an Ethiopian imam and a member of the mosque committee on suspicion of inciting crime and violence after reportedly calling on worshippers to murder other Muslims who refused to take part in communal prayers. The member of the mosque committee was released in December but the imam remains still in prison.
Winterthur’s city council had welcomed the raids on the mosque, and said it was committed to doing everything possible to preventing radicalisation.
The mosque has long been suspected of having links to radical Islamic movements. It has been in the headlines for allegedly radicalising young Muslims in the region and recruiting jihadist fighters – charges that it has strongly denied.
In an interview on SRF, the mosque’s president, Atef Sahnoun, argued that keeping tabs on worshippers who may be problematic is not part of his job. He also denied that prayers being held at the mosque were radical in nature.
Last year, the Islamic culture organisation criticised the media for "inciting hatred against the mosque". It said it is difficult to foster integration in a climate of "baseless allegations".
Investigative journalist Kurt Pelda told Swiss public television, SRF, on Tuesday that part of the mosque and executive committee are “absolutely radical” and should be regarded as very dangerous.
swissinfo.ch and agencies/jd