Press Release

Bern, 20.10.2011

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS) is taking a ground-breaking step by hosting a demonstration against Islamophobia and racism in the city of Bern on October 29th, 2011 which is expected to be the largest Islamic festival ever to have occurred in Switzerland.

The Festival

With an appealing festive feel the “Day Against Islamophobia and Racism” is a chance to witness the innovative work of the Central Council as well as its commitment to ensuring the basic human rights of Muslims in Swiss society. This demonstration is supported by a wide variety of groups both in Switzerland and across Europe.  Speakers include Lauren Booth, the sister-in-law of ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair- a well-known British journalist who converted to Islam in 2010, two prominent and influential leaders of Islamic communities – Sheikh Abdullah al-Samit Frank Bubenheim from Germany and Mufti Muamer Zukorlic from Sandžak, plus special performances from Labbayk, an Islamic vocal group from the UK who have secured worldwide acclaim for their uplifting performances as well as one of the most popular singers in the Muslim Albanian Diaspora in Western Europe, Adem Ramadani. Supporters of the event include Yvonne Ridley, a well-known British journalist made famous for her capture by the Taliban in 2001 and her subsequent conversion to Islam.

Hardships in the Aftermath of the Minaret Ban

Life for Muslims in Switzerland has been an uphill struggle recently and in some cases totally unbearable as a result of shocking attitudes towards Muslims and foreigners, attitudes that have manifested themselves through racist campaigns by political parties, culminating in the minaret ban; the ostracising of Muslim women in the workplace simply for donning Islamic head coverings (the hijab), resulting in its ban in educational workplaces; islamophobic insults in public; and numerous debates surrounding the banning of the face veil (the niqab). Thus, the festival is a chance for Muslims and non-Muslims to stand together and support one another to ensure a fundamental human right: the freedom of religion. It is an ideal chance for attendees to gain a closer insight into the life of Muslims in Switzerland.

 

 «The headscarf girl» gives some insight into daily lifes of Muslim women in Switzerland.

 

Averting a repeat of the Norway Massacre

The tragedy unleashed by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway this year is evident that Europe cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the threat that Muslim communities face from islamophobic, racist extremists. Breivik may have been labelled as a one-off, isolated case but the reality is that such ideologies have a tendency of duplicating themselves across nations that share similar demographics. The “Day Against Islamophobia and Racism” aims to stifle the growth of such an ideology that has the capacity of destroying the framework of a social order where Muslims can both exercise their religious rights and function as part of the Swiss society without discrimination or fear of reprisals.

–END–

Notes to editors

  1. The “Day Against Islamophobia and Racism” Festival will take place between 2pm and 7pm on the Federal Square, in front of the national parliament and seat of the government, just one week after the Federal elections.
  2. Special access passes to speakers and singers, representatives of the Council and its event organisers, or backstage access to filming or photograph opportunities can be obtained up until 5pm on October 26th, 2011 via the press desk: [email protected].
  3. The Central Council, which was founded in 2009, boasts a membership of over 2000 individuals in addition to 13 affiliated associations. It is renowned for being the leading and most well-known Islamic grassroots organization serving the Muslim community in Switzerland in social, political and legal matters. The Central Council is organized into eight departments each headed by a dedicated board member under the auspices of the president, Nicholas Blancho. It strives to unite the voice of the Muslim community in Switzerland bringing it firmly into the public sphere engaging with local politicians, educators and the media on a daily basis.
  4. Official website address https://www.islamophobia.ch/
  5. Department of Public Relations Contact: Mr. Abdel Azziz Qaasim Illi: email: [email protected] ; tel: +41 31 511 0293; fax: +41 31 511 0291; mobile: +41 78 693 2222
  6. This is a free event open to all members of the public.

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