According to reports in the Tages-Anzeiger and by Swiss broadcaster SRF, the Swiss commune of Nidau wants the canton of Bern to expel a Libyan imam who has preached hate. The preacher has reportedly called for the destruction of all enemies of islam, including christians, jews, hindus, Russians and shiites.
The man arrived in Switzerland in 1998. In 2001 he was granted refugee status and a B permit. Then in 2003 he was given a C permit. Shortly after this, in 2004, he applied for welfare and has since received around CHF 600,000, according to various media reports. The man, now 64, will soon be entitled to receive a Swiss state pension.
Switzerland’s system of administration and taxation mean welfare payments can hit the pockets of local residents. Tax rates can vary from village to village in some parts of the country, and if welfare payments rise, commune taxes sometimes rise with them.
There have been numerous questions related to the man’s integration. The imam, who preached at the Ar-Rahman mosque in Bienne, is reported to speak almost no French or German, despite arriving in Switzerland around 19 years ago. The commune of Nidau lies on a linguistic border. While officially German speaking, it is home to a large French-speaking minority.
Swiss law bans recognised refugees from travelling to their country of origin, something the man did several times, according to documents passed to Bern by the Libyan embassy, reports 20 Minutes. The cantonal migration authority, which appears to have turned a blind eye to this, did not want to comment, reported the newspaper.
In 2012, the commune of Nidau, where the man resides, effectively asked the canton of Bern, who is responsible for issuing the man’s residence permits, to revoke his permit.
Calls to have the man stripped of his residence permit have multiplied and he now risks expulsion.
Yesterday, Adrian Amstutz, a federal parliamentarian and member of the UDC/SVP wrote: “This scandal is so huge that it is difficult to believe…” “Imams who preach hate towards christians and jews, and who criticise the depravation of the west, are living comfortably as refugees on welfare.” Amstutz is calling for existing laws to be applied more rigorously and for the government to consider filling gaps in the existing legal system.
Ingrid Hess, spokesperson for the Swiss Conference for Social Welfare, said “welfare does not depend on religious opinions”. And despite being bothered by this troubling case, Yvonne Feri, a socialist federal parliamentary member and member of the health and social security commission, is opposed to all sanctions. “What would be achieved if these sorts of people end up in the street?”, she said