ZURICH, May 28, 2005 (IslamOnlin.net) – A Swiss Muslim activist has denounced a Zurich Supreme Court's ruling that considered labeling Islamists as "terrorists" was neither punishable by law nor an incitement of religious hatred.
"Justice is denied by this verdict and apparently the court has come under intense pressure from media, which used Islam and Muslims as a scarecrow," Palestinian-born Ahmed Elisa told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, May 28.
He charged that the court was influenced by "Zionist-run western newspapers" and statements made by German Interior Minister Otto Schily, who once regarded "Islamic terrorism" as a serious threat to Germany's national security.
Elisa filed the case after the Jewish lobby group, David, accused "Islamic, Arab and Palestinian terror" of standing behind the 2002 car bomb at the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in the Kenyan city of Mombassa, though the perpetrators remain unknown to date.
In an open appeal to the Swiss federal government and media in 2002, it claimed that mosques, not churches or synagogues, were breeding grounds for terrorism.
The group further held the Islamic civilization inferior to the Jeudo-Christian civilization.
Inciting religious hatred and racism is a criminal offense under Article 261 (bis) of the Swiss penal code, which can be punished by a fine or a prison sentence.
However, the court's verdict, which was issued on Wednesday, May 25, neither found hatred rhetoric in the group's appeal nor in its derogatory remarks about mosques.
The judge based his ruling on a Reuters report at the time of the Mombassa incident that people of Arab appearances were spotted near the scene of the bombing.
He further cited writings by western authors who described Islamists as "terrorists."
Independent Swiss legal experts said the court stopped short of taking into account books by western authors, who refused to equate Islam with terrorism, says IOL correspondent.
Last June, Swiss Muslims launched a ten-day campaign to reach out to non-Muslims in the capital Geneva, to counter malicious media onslaughts and clear stereotypes on Islam.
Elisa criticized the inaction of the Arab and Muslim minorities in Europe and Switzerland, saying they failed to stand up firmly to the ferocious anti-Islam campaign in the West.
He also blamed "liberal" Muslims for the impotent reaction.
"It is ridiculous that the court cites a statement made by Muslim writer Bassam Al-Tibi, who warned of the Islamists' threat," Elias told IOL.
He urged Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe and leading Muslim organizations to intervene.
"Authentic Muslim bodies should clearly define the world ‘Islamist,' so that we can defend ourselves and disassociate Islamists from terrorism," he said.
"I feel lonely in this battle and wonder when will Muslims in the West act in concert to stop the venomous media campaign? Elias wondered bitterly.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted last month a resolution calling for combating defamation campaigns against Islam and Muslims in the West.
On his next step, the Muslim activist said he plans to take his case to the Supreme Federal Court, the highest judicial authority in Switzerland.
"But that requires financial support because the case will cost around $20,000," he said.
Switzerland is home to some 380,000 Muslims representing a sizable 4.7 percent of the country's some eight million people. Islam is the second religion in the country after Christianity.