BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi called on Thursday for a “jihad” or armed struggle against Switzerland, saying it was an infidel state that was destroying mosques.
“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against (the Prophet) Mohammad, God and the Koran,” Gaddafi said during a meeting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to mark the Prophet’s birthday.
“The masses of Muslims must go to all airports in the Islamic world and prevent any Swiss plane landing, to all harbors and prevent any Swiss ships docking, inspect all shops and markets to stop any Swiss goods being sold,” Gaddafi said.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it had no comment on Gaddafi’s remarks.
Libya’s relations with Switzerland broke down in 2008 when a son of Gaddafi was arrested in a Geneva hotel and charged with abusing domestic servants.
He was released shortly afterwards and the charges were dropped, but Libya cut oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrew billions of dollars from Swiss bank accounts and arrested two Swiss businessmen working in the North African country.
One has been released but the other was forced this week to leave the Swiss embassy in Tripoli where he had been sheltering and move to a prison to serve a four-month sentence, apparently avoiding a major confrontation.
Libya says the Geneva arrest and the case of the two businessmen are not linked.
“Let us fight against Switzerland, Zionism and foreign aggression,” said Gaddafi, adding that “this is not terrorism,” in contrast with the work of al Qaeda which he called a “kind of crime and a psychological disease.”
“There is a big difference between terrorism and jihad which is a right to armed struggle,” he said.
Gaddafi accused Switzerland of being an “infidel, obscene state which is destroying mosques,” in reference to a Swiss referendum verdict barring construction of minarets.
He called for a “jihad against it with all means.”
Gaddafi was speaking before leading prayers in a Benghazi square in the presence of envoys from dozens of Muslim countries.
Swiss nationals voted 57.5 percent in favor of the minaret ban in the November 29 referendum backed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. The federal government had urged voters to reject it, warning it would contravene religious freedom.
Reporting by Salah Sarrar; Writing by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Diana Abdallah