Libya's Gaddafi calls for holy war on Switzerland

March 1st, 2010

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has called for Muslims to declare jihad against Switzerland, citing the recent Swiss ban on the construction of new minarets at mosques. Libya and Switzerland have been in a diplomatic dispute since the Swiss arrested one of Gaddafi’s sons in 2008. Gaddafi now states he would invade if the two shared a common border.

Yesterday, the Colonel addressed a gathering in Benghazi to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. During the speech, which The New York Times described as ‘rambling,’ he said that “[t]hose who destroy God’s mosques deserve to be attacked through Jihad, and if Switzerland was on our borders, we would fight it.” He called on Muslim nations to reject entry from Swiss ships and aircraft, and asked Muslims to boycott goods from Switzerland.

Libya has already recalled its diplomats and withdrawn its money from Switzerland. Oil shipments were disrupted, and two Swiss nationals were prevented from leaving Libya. One was released earlier this week after being detained for nineteen months, and the other remains in a Libyan jail, serving a four-month ‘reduced’ sentence. All these measures followed the arrest of Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife under suspicion of assaulting their servants.

In response to a recent Swiss implementation of travel restrictions on Gaddafi and his relatives, Libya barred most of Europe from entering (totaling 25 countries). Last November, the Swiss voted to amend the constitution to prevent the construction of new minarets. This was the reasoning Gaddafi presented for his latest comments.

Spain and Italy have been attempting to mediate the dispute since the barring of European entry to Libya. The European Union has been “working closely with Switzerland to reach a diplomatic solution,” and says the timing of Gaddifi’s proclamation is “unfortunate.” France and the United Nations said Gaddafi’s words were unacceptable.

Gaddafi, who has a harem of young female bodyguards and a reputation for outlandish eccentricity, has been met with negative reactions from Muslims in Switzerland. “In my opinion, this is a purely political matter between Libya and Switzerland, and has nothing to do with Islam or with Muslims,” said the head of the mosque in Geneva. Yasar Ozdemir of the Swiss Federation of Muslim Associations said he was unsurprised by Gaddafi’s “nonsense.”

This article originally appeared in Wikinews.

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