An Alpine version of Abdul Wahid Pedersen is causing a lot of controversy in the Swiss media. As many readers (and most Danes) know, Abdul Wahid Pedersen is a Danish convert to Islam who was unwilling to declare himself against the stoning of women for adultery.
A little further south, meet Nicolas Blancho, president of the Islamic central council in Switzerland. JLH has translated an article about him from Basler Zeitung:
Stoning As a Religious Value
April 26, 2010
After his weekend appearance on Swiss TV, Nicolas Blancho, president of the Islamic central council, is really under fire for the first time. He himself proceeds on the assumption that he is being watched by national security.
According to the “Sunday Newspaper,” Nicolas Blancho did business with a man who allegedly had ties to al-Qaida. According to the newspaper, Blancho founded the firm Tradex with a Yemeni citizen. In 2007, the (Swiss) federal court convicted this Blancho companion of smuggling Yemenis into Switzerland and providing them with false papers. The federal attorney’s office also had indications that this Yemeni was in contact with an al-Quaida terrorist. However, it could not be proved that he supported al-Quaida.
Two national party leaders have made critical remarks about Nicolas Blancho’s appearance on Swiss TV’s “Arena.” CVP [Christian-Democratic People’s Party, “conservative”] President Christophe Darbellay said over the weekend that Blancho has to “distance himself from methods that do not accord with our legal order.” And: “Fundamentalists have no place in Switzerland.” Similarly, Fulvio Pelli, president of the FDP [Free Democratic Party,”liberal”]: “Religious fanatics are dangerous. You must not underestimate them.”
The background to these comments is as follows. On Friday in his “Arena” appearance, Blancho said emphatically and repeatedly that he and the Islamic Central Council obey Swiss law, even when it is in conflict with his religious views. However, he would give no clear answer to whether he was for or against stoning in Islamic countries.
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In an interview with the newspaper, “Sunday,” Blancho said in regard to stoning: “For me as a Muslim, it is a component, a value of my religion.” However, it is, “with the given conditions in the world and in Switzerland, not transplantable.” He did not want to distance himself clearly from stoning in the “Sunday” interview. “You can’t ask someone to distance himself from celibacy. Or the Jews to distance themselves from the Talmud.”
Blancho thinks it is “okay” for his organization to be in security’s crosshairs. He says he is prepared at any time to invite security into his mosque in Biel. He goes on the assumption that his organization is being surveilled. “As far as I am concerned the whole country can come into the mosque in Biel.”
People in Blancho’s hometown are concerned too. City president and SP [Social Democratic Party — “socialist”] national councilor, Hans Stöckli, said in reference to the “Sunday” interview, that he had not been informed by either the federal police or the intelligence service of any observations or insights concerning this “central council.” It is unsatisfactory, he said; the city of Biel did not wish to be drawn into “these kinds of important, political-security questions.” Stöckli explained that the Biel city administration had therefore tasked him with “an analysis of the situation, to clarify what action may be necessary concerning extremist groups in Biel.”