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Suspended teacher to launch appeal

Hani Ramadan has been suspended from teaching in Geneva

A Geneva-born junior high school teacher suspended for his extremist Islamic views has defended his opinions and insisted he is not a terrorist.

Hani Ramadan said he would appeal against a decision by canton Geneva to ban him from teaching.

Cantonal authorities say they took the decision to suspend Ramadan from teaching after he wrote an article for the French newspaper, "Le Monde", in which he defended death by stoning for adultery.

Speaking in Sunday's edition of the Swiss newspaper, "Le Matin", Ramadan said he stood by the content of the article.

"Muslims living in Europe have the right...to bear witness to their faith and their convictions," he said, "even if that offends those who judge them before understanding them," Ramadan said.

"I will pursue all legal means to assert my rights," he told swissinfo.

The 43-year-old Swiss citizen had been working as a French teacher and is also director of the Geneva Islamic Centre.

He was suspended from teaching duties by authorities on Friday following publication of the article, in which he defended the death penalty as set out in Muslim sharia law.

Ramadan said he was not a terrorist, adding that the international community "has an unfortunate habit of confusing certain acts of resistance with barbarism".

But Claude Torracinta, former president of the Swiss branch of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, said he remained concerned by the content of the article written by Ramadan.

"By defending sharia law in this way...Ramadan is giving Islam a very negative image," Torracinta said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

A Geneva-born teacher is to appeal against his suspension for writing a newspaper article in which he defended the death penalty as set out in Muslim sharia law.

Cantonal authorities in Geneva banned Hani Ramadan from teaching after he used the article to defend the practice of death by stoning for adultery.

Ramadan is director of the Geneva Islamic Centre.

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