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Apology and resignation after offending tweet

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The Zurich man at the centre of a Twitter controversy has apologised for sending an Islamophobic tweet and resigned from the Swiss People's Party. He is under investigation for suspected violation of anti-racism laws.

The Zurich prosecutor’s office opened a criminal investigation on Tuesday after the committe member of a local branch of the rightwing People’s Party tweeted: “Maybe we need a new Kristallnacht … this time against the mosques”.

Also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht is the name given to a pogrom against Jews in Germany in November 1938, during which nearly 100 people were killed and businesses and synagogues attacked while authorities looked on.

In its statement, the prosecutor’s office said it had interviewed the author of the tweet, searched his home and seized the equipment used to post the comments on social networking site Twitter.

The man, who was fired by his employer after it learned of the tweet, spoke brielfy at a press conference on Wednesday offering his apology and confirming his resignation from the party.  

According to the prosecutor’s office, the author admitted to having posted the comment, but said it had been taken out of context by the media. The tweet was apparently made in response to the acquittal in May of a Muslim man who had said it was “OK” for a man to beat his wife if she refused to have sex with him.

Tweeted on Saturday, the author quickly removed the comments from his Twitter account @dailytalk and at first denied he had written it. But the newspaper 20 Minuten on Tuesday revealed it had retrieved the tweet, along with another which said: “I would like to stand certain people up against the wall and shoot them. Less dirt on the earth would be good”.    

As well as resigning from the executive committee of the People’s Party branch for Zurich districts 7 and 8, the man resigned his seat on the local school board.

In a statement, president of the city of Zurich People’s Party, Roger Liebi, said the comments were “unacceptable” and called for the man to be expelled from the party.

The Young Greens, along with the Islamic Central Council, are considering pressing charges.

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities said the tweet was offensive to Jews and Muslims.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR