In a surprising development that escalates the ongoing dispute between Libya and Switzerland, Libya’s President Mummar Al-Gadhafi called on all Muslims worldwide to wage a jihad against Switzerland. His call for Jihad is claimed to be in response for the Swiss referendum to ban construction of Mosques’ minarets which got approved by the majority of Swiss voters in November 2009. In fact, this declaration by Al-Gadhafi is not surprising, as we got used to hearing and reading weird statements by the Libyan Colonel.
Without going deeper into Switzerland’s decision to ban construction of Muslim minarets which has been approved democratically by the Swiss people through popular vote , which the Swiss government body did not agree with, we were hoping that the Swiss people will make a decision that ensures more freedom for ethnic and religious minorities that enjoys a good democratic climate in Switzerland
The declaration of the Libyan Colonel to wage Jihad against Switzerland is just another indication of the nature and way of thinking of the ruling regimes in the third world countries in particular and in the Arab world in general. It is a reflection of power balance and absence of rule of law as citizens of these countries must serve the ruler only. Libya with its capabilities and resources of money and oil, is serving the Colonel’s freaks and his sons’ adventures. Everyone knows that Al- Gadhafi’s anger was neither because of his compliance with Muslims freedoms in Switzerland nor because of Libya’s interests there. The real reason for this declaration was because of Switzerland decision to arresting one of Al-Gadhafi’s sons after committing a violation to the laws of Switzerland.
This crisis started in July 2008 when Al-Gadhafi’s son Hannibal and his wife were arrested and briefly held in Geneva after two domestic workers complained he had mistreated them. The row deepened when Libya swiftly detained and confiscated the passports of two Swiss businessmen, Rashid Hamdani and Max Goeldi. Both men were convicted of overstaying their visas and of engaging in illegal business activities. Hamdani’s conviction was overturned in January, and he has now returned home, while Goeldi surrendered to authorities this week and is now serving a reduced jail term of four months.
Al-Gadhafi has not stopped employing Libya and its wealth in serving his regime that caused poverty and isolation for the Libyan people who always struggled for independence. The Colonel of Libya nowadays is trying to employ Islam and international relations to take revenge against Switzerland because of a personal problem that was caused when Switzerland applied the principle “everyone is equal in front of the law”. Instead of applying this principle in his country, Al-Gadhafi is instigating Arabs and Muslims against Switzerland.
There is no comparison between the level of freedoms that Muslims enjoy in Europe and specifically in Switzerland, with these freedoms, if ever exist in Libya.
The Libyan prisons are filled of prisoners whom their sentences ended. Moreover, these sentences are unjust and there are thousands who are in prisons without clear accusations. This week, the Libyan minister of justice submitted his resignation because of not releasing hundreds of prisoners who have finished their sentences. Al-Gadhafi justified this step by claiming that these prisoners if released, they will be threatening the neighboring countries because of their belonging to Al-Qaeda. Al-Gadhafi forgot that the US itself, which controls Guantanamo Bay detention camp, has released some of the prisoners even if they have been accused of being members of Al-Qaeda. The Libyan Colonel did his best to satisfy US and Europe after the mass killing process of Lockerbie plane bombing that was financed by him. He was forced to pay billion of dollars to the families of victims. He signed contracts for large weapons deals, no one knows how and when he will use them. Moreover, he contracted several international companies to start large projects in Libya; not to benefit the poor and unemployed Libyan people for sure.
Switzerland the country and the people deserve what is better than waging Jihad against them. Switzerland is one of the fewest neutral countries in the world that avoided entering any conflict. Switzerland is a state that ensures all types of freedoms for its citizens without discrimination. It is the country that is always working to achieve international peace and security. It is the country that works to solve the problems not only between governments, but among the same nation. It is the country that staunchly supports international justice wherever war crimes are being committed. It is the country that made a clear stance against the Israeli aggression on Gaza Strip in 2009. It is the only western state with Norway that respected the results of the Palestinian election and did not boycott it. Moreover, it is the only western country that is working to enhance the Palestinian reconciliation by giving an extraordinary effort for achieving the reconciliation, while Al-Gadhafi’s efforts and most of the Arab countries are rare in this field. In the last few decades, some of the Arab and Islamic countries are employing religion to serve politics and ruling regimes that are monopolizing authority. These regimes nowadays are trying to win legitimacy from religious sheikhs. This situation is threatening development in our Arab world. Employment of religion for legitimizing those in power, is one of the patterns to waste the resources of the nations and to distorte the priorities through creating undesirable conflicts that bring isolation, hatred, and ignorance to our countries. This situation made the Arab world, rich with its natural resources, one of the poorest regions in the world. The individual, tribal, and familial regimes that are ruling our Arab world are responsible for this regression, ignorance, and social tension; where the entire Arab world is serving the narrow visions of the rulers instead of building free and developed societies that produce knowledge and contribute in developing the world.
Switzerland provided an example for the whole humanity in the fields of development, quality of life, and defending human rights. Switzerland deserves to be studied for its experience and to be appreciated for its pioneer role, not to wage Jihad against it or to consider it as an enemy.
Head of PalThink for Strategic Studies