No Koran distribution in Zurich after all

The group plan to distribute copies of the Islamic holy book on Saturday. Keystone

The planned distribution of Koranic literature by an Islamic group will not be taking place in Zurich, city authorities have said. The application to do so has been withdrawn.

On Tuesday, Zurich city officials announced that they had given the green light to an applicant to distribute the material on July 1. This put them at odds with the canton of Zurich, which two months ago recommended banning such campaigns.

In a statement on Wednesday, the city of Zurich's security department said that the applicant had informed the authorities of his decision on Wednesday morning, after having met with all those involved.

"They have decided to postpone the street campaign until further notice," the statement said.

"The applicant wrote that he recognised that the city of Zurich had upheld religious freedom, even under public pressure. For this reason, as well it being important to them to keep the social peace, they will not be distributing the Koran."

Canton of Zurich's recommendation

In May, cantonal justice authorities recommended banning the distribution of Korans which are part of a campaign called “Lies!” (German for 'Read').

"Lies!" is carried out by a Salafist group called “Die Wahre Religion” (“True Religion”), which the canton believes to be involved in a campaign of extremist recruitment. 

On Wednesday canton Zurich head of security Mario Fehr welcomed the news that there would be no "Lies!" action on Zurich's streets, saying the canton's stance had prevailed.

"The "Lies!" campaign is dangerous, there are several criminal proceedings against campaign activists and a significant number of Swiss travelling for Jihad have or have had a link to "Lies"," a canton Zurich statement said.

Various criminal investigations have opened by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against the group, and there was a ban and police raid of the group in Germany last year.

The OAG suspects that “True Religion” – founded by Gaza-born, German Salafist Ibrahim Abou-Nagie – could be guilty of participating in or supporting a criminal organisation.

Following the raids on the group in Germany, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said the “True Religion” group had persuaded about 140 people to join militants in Iraq and Syria.

Zurich city authorities had argued that there was no concrete proof or decisions pending against the people running the “Lies!”campaign.

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