Swiss authorities have been pushed to act after the German government launched raids on 200 sites in a probe against Salafist group “The True Religion” on Tuesday.
Known for its controversial “Lies!” (or “Read!”, in English) programme, in which the organisation hands out German copies of a strict traditionalist version of the Koran, the group have also been active in Switzerland for several years.
The German government has banned the organisation on the basis of being unconstitutional and “inciting hate”. There is no legal basis on which to ban groups in Switzerland, so authorities are looking to a town which successfully clamped down on The True Religion by prohibiting copies of the Koran from being distributed.
Attempts to stop the Salafists proselytising have failed throughout the country, except for in the Aargau town of Brugg where The True Religion has failed to gain a foothold. Since 2012, the town has refused permits for requests to use public spaces to give out Korans.
Already, though, Salafists in Switzerland are changing tactics. In Basel this week a Muslim convert of Macedonian origin distributed copies of a biography of Muhammad, and promoted free audiobooks for children.
Behind this is “We Love Muhammad”, the new German Salafist organisation which was created to replace The True Religion. On Sunday, two days before the Salafist group was banned by the federal government, activists in Frankfurt were already handing out biographies of Mohammed and telling passersby to download the group’s new smartphone app.
On Wednesday, Austria’s foreign minister accused the Socialist party of blocking a bill which would ban the distribution of the Koran. The proposed integration bill contained a number of other provisions including the banning of the full-face veil and a community work programme for migrants granted asylum.