Man fined 210 Swiss Francs for saying ‘Allahu Akbar

25th Jan 2019
Man fined 210 Swiss Francs for saying ‘Allahu Akbar

Schaffhausen northern Switzerland (Photo: Eberhard von Nellenburg/Wiki Commons)

Nadine Osman

A Muslim man was fined 210 Swiss Francs (£178) by police in Schaffhausen, northern Switzerland, for “shocking” the public by greeting a passerby with “Allahu Akbar” [God is Greatest].

Speaking to Schaffhauser Nachrichten this month, Orhan E who is of Turkish descent says he merely used the phrase after spotting a friend in May 2018 when he was fined for “causing a public nuisance”.

The phrase is commonly used by Arabic speakers as an all-purpose response to a range of emotions, including joy, distress or surprise – similar to “oh my God” in English. Orhan said he thought nothing of the phrase, which he said is used by Muslims “almost every second sentence”.

Orhan said that he had decided to come forward with his story following a recent incident in which a Muslim man was allegedly punched by a Swiss border guard after using the phrase.
“I was born here and have never experienced anything like this,” he said. “Just because terrorists misuse these two words doesn’t mean I have bad intentions when I say them.”

However, as he conversed with his friend “he was approached by an off-duty police officer” who said his “loud and clear” use of the expression could have caused people to fear an imminent terror attack, according to The Local.

“I didn’t want any problems and I spent two minutes trying to explain why I had said what I did,” Orhan said.

The policewoman nevertheless called for armed back-up. Orhan says he was “manhandled” by officers before being issued with the fine.

Police spokesman Patrick Caprez maintained that officer had acted “appropriately” out of concern for public order. “At the time, there was a possibility that people could have become afraid or shocked”.

However, the town’s security chief, Romeo Bettini, said that it was “completely wrong” to suggest that saying “Allahu Akbar” was banned in Schaffhausen and insisted Orhan had been targeted because he shouted the phrase – a claim the young man denies.

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