The Albanian mosque in Zurich’s Seebach district is not a normal Muslim place of worship. Visitors can already see that from the outside. Underneath the Albanian lettering for “Seebach Mosque” is the large word “Islamshop”. The website claims that it is the “largest online shop in Switzerland”.
However, what the mosque, registered in the commercial register as the “Foundation of Islamic Youth”, sells online and in its bookshop just behind the entrance door is rather interesting. For 39.90 francs, for example, the book “Ilmihal for Women”, translated from Turkish, a kind of Islamic guide for Muslim women. This ” opus” was first brought to the attention of the newspaper “Oberösterreichisches Volksblatt”.
It says, for example, that “anyone who insults the Prophet Muhammad, offends him or denigrates his religion in any way must be killed”. And he must be killed even if he repents of his actions. What such calls can result in was shown by the beheading of the French teacher Samuel Paty last October. Paty was brutally murdered in the street because he had dared to raise the issue of the Mohammed cartoons in school.When this newspaper phones Bashkim K. (name altered), the founder of the foundation and head of the Islam shop, he says he cannot possibly know the contents of all the books he sells.Bashkim K. does not answer the questions he subsequently receives in writing with evidence of the problematic passages in the guide. The Islamshop website now states that ” Ilmihal for Women” is now sold out.The “Islamic basic knowledge” that the book wants to impart also includes such ideas: “The predominant goal of feminism lies in the de-feminisation of women, which leads to a comprehensive rejection of their own gender identity, but at the same time destroys it. (…) No gender is superior to the other. Men and women are just not equal. In some respects, the woman is superior to the man. She is more soft-hearted, more caring, more protective, has more sense for aesthetics. (The) man is more warlike, more rational, takes care of defence and sustenance.”It is not far from such ideas to the use of violence against women: “The husband is entitled to chastisement if the wife invites other men into the house against the will of her husband, gets involved with other men, squanders the common property on other men and neglects her religious duties. If all else fails, “light beating on the part of the husband is permissible”. However, blows to the head, face, chest or stomach, as well as broken bones and life-threatening injuries are not permitted. “No marks or traces may be left on the body as a result of the beating. (…) The primary aim of this measure is merely to exert psychological pressure on the woman to bring about a change for the better.”
What Bashkim K. and his foundation think of this advice remains unclear. The foundation states that its purpose is to promote the religious concerns of Muslims in Switzerland. However, that does not seem to be all. A whole series of companies in which Bashkim K. has a stake are written on the foundation’s letterbox. In addition to the mosque and online trading, the foundation says it is also active in humanitarian aid and collects donations.
For some time, the supervisory authority has had doubts as to whether the foundation capital of initially 50,000 Swiss francs was really used in accordance with its purpose. In May 2019, the Federal Supervisory Authority for Foundations wrote: “At present, it must be assumed that the foundation must be liquidated. If necessary, the civil and/or criminal responsibilities of the foundation’s management bodies must also be examined (…)”.
The supervisory authority appointed a trustee and had Bashkim K. removed from the commercial register as president of the foundation board. But that did not help at all. Even the trustee did not manage to get an overview of the financial situation. In February, exasperated, he threw in the towel. The foundation supervisory authority now wants to file a complaint for disobedience against official orders, as it explains on request. It had no knowledge of the book “Ilmihal for Women”. The prosecution authorities will have to clarify whether the foundation has committed a criminal offence.