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2,000 people attend Islam conference

Up to 2,000 people have attended the annual conference of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland on Saturday in the town of Biel.

The group, which was founded by young converts, has come in for some criticism in the past over fears that that some of its members might be a potential threat to the country’s security.

In a speech, the council’s president Nicolas Blancho called on the Muslim community to be more self-critical. He criticised most Islamic countries as lagging behind and called for a better situation for women.

Among those also contributing to the meeting were figures from abroad such as Shefqet Krasniqi. Imam in Pristina, the Islamic convert and now missionary Yusuf Estes from the United States, and another convert, the British journalist Yvonne Ridley.

The council is not without controversy. In April 2010 the head of the migration office, Alard du Bois-Reymond, said that some young Swiss converts to Islam at the council were a potential threat to the country’s security. The group has strongly denied his assertion.

The council was in charge of security at Saturday’s meeting, but the cantonal police were present as well. Several Christian and anti-Islamic organisations had announced peaceful protests against the conference. Around 50 people were reported to have taken part.

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