By Nykoel Dinardo
Senior Desk Officer, Middle East
Geneva, Switzerland – The United Nations (UN) responded to Libya’s Moammer Gadhafi on Friday, February 26, stating that his call for jihad against Switzerland is “truly absurd.” Colonel Gadhafi announced the day before that the nation of Libya was in a holy war with Switzerland, after the European country passed a law banning minarets, a tower from which the call to prayer is announced from a mosque.
Although there are only four minarets in all of Switzerland, the minaret-banning law was passed by the Swiss government in December of 2009. It has been the subject of
controversy since it was brought before the Swiss Parliament. The Swiss People’s Party (SPP) proposed the law, claiming that minarets were a sign of Islamisation and publicized the law using posters depicting minarets as missiles, which were considered by many to be inflamatory. Although the Swiss federal government encouraged the people not to vote for the law, stating that it could violate the concepts of freedom of religion and human rights, the law passed by 57.5 percent. Since its passage, a claim has been brought before the European Court of Human Rights, and there has been increased fear of retaliation by extremists.
Gadhafi’s jihad is the latest response to the law. Gadhafi announced the jihad in a speech on February 25, claiming that Switzerland is an “obscene, infidel state.” He went on, saying that “those who destroy God’s mosques deserve to be attacked through jihad, and if Switzerland was on [Libya’s] borders, [they] would fight it.” Gadhafi made this announcement on a holiday marking the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
A Swiss sociologist, who has written extensively on Gadhafi, has argued that Gadhafi’s claims should be taken seriously – stating that his choice to announce the jihad on the holiday was intended to incite extremists. Despite these claims, Swiss lawmaker Oskar Freysinger told the Associated Press that “[he] can imagine this won’t be taken very seriously.” Switzerland has issued no security alerts or taken any actions of heightened vigilence. Furthermore, there has been speculation that Gadhafi’s jihad is a personal attack. Gadhafi is known to hold a grudge against Switzerland since July 2008, when his son Hannibal Ghadafi and his son’s wife were arrested by the Swiss on charges on assaulting their maid.
The UN headquarters in Geneva responded to the announcement by condemning Ghadafi’s actions. Sergei Ordzhonikidze, the UN Chief in Geneva, explained that “such declarations on the part of a head of state are inadmissible in international relations.”
For more information, please see:
TIME – Gaddafi vs. Switzerland: The Leader’s Son on What’s Behind the Feud – 27 February 2010
Swiss Info – Swiss Thank Europe for Solidarity in Libya Row – 27 February 2010
Associated Press – Swiss Face “Holy War” with Gadhafi’s Libya – 26 February 2010
BBC – UN Deplores Gaddafi Call for Anti-Swiss ‘Jihad’ – 26 February 2010
The New York Times – Switzerland Unruffled by Qaddafi’s Call for ‘Jihad’ in Wake of Its Ban on New Minarets – 26 February 2010
BBC – Swiss Minaret Appeal Goes to European Court – 16 December 2009