Muslim group to deploy 'Jewish star' at Bern rally

The Local 3 November 2011
By Meritxell Mir

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS), a conservative Muslim group, has chosen a symbol reminiscent of the Jewish Star of David for a planned protest against Islamophobia this weekend.

Around 2,000 people are expected to participate in the 'Day against Islamophobia and racism', a mini-festival organized by ICCS in the capital Bern that will run from 2 to 5pm on Saturday.

In an attempt to draw parallels between the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany and Muslims in the Switzerland of today, many participants will wear t-shirts and stickers with the word 'Muslim' framed by a yellow star.

The Bern-based ICCS was founded by young Swiss converts to Islam shortly before the political initiative to ban minarets. Some in the Swiss media have labeled its president Nicholas Blancho 'the Bin Laden of Biel', a reference to his home town.

The organisation, which has more than 2,000 members, professes a conservative interpretation of Islam and has often made headlines in Switzerland for its provocative campaigning.

Seemingly unperturbed by the criticism, Blancho says there are distinct similarities between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

"We want to trigger a debate and show that the discrimination of Muslims in Switzerland is a fact," he told Tages Anzeiger. "Muslims are treated as second-class citizens and are discriminated against, for example because they wear a headscarf or because of their name when they look for an apprenticeship or are looking for an apartment,” he added. (...)