Winterthur mosque raided after sermon ‘incited violence’

Police cordoned off the area around the An'Nur mosque during an early morning raid on Wednesday Keystone
This content was published on November 2, 2016 - 11:00 and agencies

Prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against four people, including an Ethiopian Imam, who are suspected of inciting violence at the An’Nur mosque in Winterthur, north of Zuich. Police raided the mosque and searched three other premises on Wednesday morning.

The Imam is accused of having called on worshippers to murder other Muslims who refused to take part in communal prayers. He also allegedly called on those present at the sermon, which the police said took place on October 21 this year, to denounce them.

The exact role of the other suspects in connection to the sermon is unclear, according to the statement from Canton Zurich police.

Officers raided the mosque, which has long been suspected of having links to radical Islamic movements, sealing off parts of the Hegi district of Winterthur. There they found four other people who are suspected of having breached immigration laws.

Three homes in the neighbourhood were also searched on Wednesday.

The An'Nur mosque culture organisation has not commented the police raids.

Jihadist fighters

The mosque has been in the headlines for the last year for allegedly radicalizing young Muslims in the region and recruiting jihadist fighters – charges that it has strongly denied.

Last week it emerged that the building’s owners cancelled the lease of the mosque.

Media reports say that at least six youths have been radicalised by the mosque and have suggested that an Islamic State cell is operating out of the building. Some of the young men have travelled to Syria to take part in Islamic military operations, it has been reported.

In an interview on SRF last December, the mosque’s president, Atef Sahnoun, argued that keeping tabs on worshippers who may be problematic is not part of his job. He also denied that prayers being held at the mosque were radical in nature.

Last month, the Islamic culture organisation criticised the media for "inciting hatred against the mosque". It said it is difficult to foster integration in a climate of "baseless allegations".

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