Police in the Swiss city of Schaffhausen have defended their decision to fine a man who used the words “Allahu akbar” in public.
The incident in May 2018, which saw the man fined 150 Swiss francs (€132) plus 60 francs in administrative charges, came to light this week after the 22-year-old involved went public with his story.
The young man, named by Swiss media as Orhan E., said he used the Islamic phrase ‘Allahu akbar’, which literally means ‘God is [the] greatest’, to express his amazement after spotting a friend of his near Schaffhausen’s goods train depot.
While he was speaking in Turkish to that friend, he was approached by an off-duty police officer. The policewoman then fined him for causing a public nuisance because he had used the phrase Allahu akbar in a “loud and clear” manner.
Local police have since defended the fine, saying the officer acted appropriately.
Speaking to Swiss news site 20 Minuten, the man said: “We use ‘Allahu akbar” as a greeting and in almost every second sentence. When the weather is good, for example. We use it when we want to say we think something is positive.”
But the young man said his attempted explanation at the time hadn’t helped. The officer had called for armed back-up and the 22-year-old was “manhandled” while police demanded that he apologize.
He added he was threatened with jail if he didn’t pay the fine.
“I was born here [in Switzerland] and have never experienced anything like this. We live in a free country with religious freedom. Arbitrary police behaviour is not acceptable,” he said of the incident.
The man paid the fine promptly because he was afraid of jail time, he said.
Source: The Local