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Switzerland investigates Muslim preacher over welfare fraud

The Ar’Rahman Mosque in Biel

The Ar’Rahman Mosque in Biel where Abu Ramadan preaches. 

(© Keystone)

Switzerland-based Muslim preacher Abu Ramadan is under investigation for allegedly committing welfare fraud. He has also been investigated over hate speech.

The public prosecutor in Bern opened a criminal investigation in early 2019 after the 66-year-old preacher was denounced by the municipality of Nidau, according to Swiss media reports.

He is suspected of committing fraud by unlawfully obtaining social benefits or securing welfare through the omission of facts.

The case was brought to light by media company Tamedia and the Swiss Public Television SRF programme “Rundschau”external link.

The media reports say the former agronomist received more than CHF590,000 ($598,317) in social assistance between 2003 and 2017. He is accused of concealing income worth tens of thousands of francs that could have led to a lower allocation of welfare benefits. The sums relate to pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia that the preacher accompanied.

Ramadan is reportedly in contact with authorities to “clarify any misunderstandings” but declined making a comment to the press.

It is not the first time that the preacher of the Ar’Rahman Mosque in the western Swiss city of Biel has caused controversy.

The imam, originally from Libya, was investigated over hateful statements he allegedly made against Jews, Christians, Buddhists and Muslim Shiites while preaching.

 + More on the criminal proceedings over racial discrimination

The Libyan lost his refugee status after several private trips to his country. He now lives in Switzerland on a C permit (permanent residence). If he is found guilty of the alleged crimes, he will be deported.

Exclude or integrate? How politicians would deal with Islamic fundamentalists

Switzerland’s political parties differ in their approaches to coping with Islamic fundamentalism. Some focus on anti-terror, others on integration.


SRF/swissinfo.ch/ds

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