SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland – A young Muslim man has been fined 210 Swiss francs, or £170, for saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ in public to express shock at seeing his friend, Daily Mail reported.
As Orhan E., 22, made the exclamation, police in the city of Schaffhausen stopped and charged him with causing a public nuisance, local newspaper Schaffhauser Nachrichten reported.
‘Suddenly the police officer called me over, and she asked what I meant by that phrase,” he told 20 Minuten.
Orhan explained he had meant nothing sinister, saying: ‘We use “Allahu Akbar” as a greeting and almost in every other sentence.
He was handed a fine of 150 Swiss francs and ordered to pay another 60 in costs, adding up to 210 francs (£170).
“I was threatened with prison if I didn’t pay the fine. I was born here and I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he added.
Police defended their actions, saying they would have reacted the same way if someone had been running around swearing.
“At the time there was a possibility that people could be scared and terrified,” a police spokesman said.
“If someone’s running around the square swearing, we’ll bring them under control then too,” another police officer added.
According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), some 362,973 Muslims live in Switzerland, representing about 5.1% of the total population.
The hijack of the term ‘Allahu Akbar’ by some terrorists unfortunately has forced many Muslim activists and scholars to defend their faith and the term the majority of Muslims use in their everyday life.
In 2017, Imam Omar Suleiman, the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, wrote an opinion article published on CNN to defend the term.
“Contrary to what many people seem to think, the phrase ‘Allahu Akbar’ simply means ‘God is Greatest.’ It is a powerful declaration used by Muslims on many occasions and in many prayers,” he wrote.
Imam Suleiman’s concern was shared by journalist, writer, and lawyer Wahajat Ali, who wrote an opinion article for the New York Times under the headline, “I Want ‘Allahu Akbar’ Back.”