By Tamer Aboalenin
GENEVA, Oct 21 (KUNA) -- The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS) announced on Friday that it is taking a ground-breaking step by hosting a demonstration against Islamophobia and racism in the Swiss Capital Bern on October 29th which is expected to be the largest Islamic festival ever to have occurred in Switzerland.
According to remarks made by the media officer of the Council, Qaasim Illi, to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) "with an appealing festive 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", he added.
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 Sandzak in the Balkan, plus special performances from Labbayk, an Islamic vocal group from the UK who have secured worldwide acclaim for their uplifting performances, in addition to 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.
"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 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", said Illi to KUNA. "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", he added.
Illi explained that 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.
The "Day Against Islamophobia and Racism" Festival will take place between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the Federal Square, in front of the national parliament and seat of the government, just one week after the Federal elections.
The Swiss Central Council, 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. (end) ta.rk KUNA 211258 Oct 11NNNN