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Archive for the ‘Libya’ Category

The Ministers of Arab League Countries decided yesterday in Cairo to fully support Libya in its conflict with Switzerland, which they called “racist”, and to officially ask EU institutions to “refuse the list of people who are not allowed to enter the Schengen countries”.

The document arrived after another long day dedicated to the diplomatic row between Libya and Switzerland that started in July 2009, when Hannibal Gaddafi, one of the sons of the Libyan leader, was arrested in Geneva.

The countries that signed the document are: Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Djibouti, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia.

The decision was taken on the day when Libya launched a “total” commercial and economic embargo on Switzerland.

This new move follows the crisis of Schengen visas and the call for Jihad, ‘holy war’, made by Libyan leader Gaddafi against Switzerland because of the question of the referendum on minarets.

The announcement of the “total commercial and economic” embargo came at the moment when Libyan Foreign Minister Mousa Kousa spoke of some hope to resolve the diplomatic crisis between the two countries. In the past two months Tripoli has cut its oil supplies to Switzerland, withdrawn Libyan capital from the country’s banks, closed the doors to Swiss Air and to close all Swiss companies active in Libya.

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Libyan strongman Muammar Ghaddafi has ratcheted up his campaign against Switzerland by calling for jihad, or holy war, against the European nation.

The two nations have been engaged in tit-for-tat arrests and sanctions in a dispute dating back to 2008 that has become a concern across Europe. But this is the first time the Libyan has called for jihad, a substantial heightening of the rhetoric.

“Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate, is against [the Prophet] Mohammad, and God and the Koran,” he told a meeting in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.

“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.”

Later in his address, Ghaddafi distinguished his proposed holy struggle from Al-Qaeda-style terrorism, saying: “There is a big difference between terrorism and jihad which is a right to armed struggle.”

In his speech Ghaddafi also slammed Switzerland’s vote in November last year to ban minarets, or spires on Moslem mosques used for the call to prayer.

The unlikely spat between the two nations dates back to the 2008 arrest in Geneva of Ghaddafi’s son Hannibal and his wife, Aline Skaf, in Geneva. They were accused of assaulting two servants while staying at a luxury hotel, though the charges were later dropped.

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Muammar Ghaddafi and his family are among 188 Libyan figures barred from visiting Switzerland, according to a decision made by Bern amid a diplomatic row, a Libyan newspaper said on Sunday.

The private daily Oea, which is close to the Libyan leader’s prominent son Seif al-Islam, carried the report quoting an unidentified “high-ranking” official.

“Swiss authorities have taken a decision prohibiting 188 Libyan figures from entering Switzerland,” the official was quoted as saying on Oea’s website.

The report said among those blacklisted were lawmakers, people from the prime minister’s office and “military, security and economic officials”.

There was no immediate reaction from Switzerland.

But the Libyan official warned in Oea that the decision would “undermine Swiss interests” and that “if it is not scrapped, (Tripoli) will respond with reciprocal measures”.

The newspaper did not say, however, when the decision was taken or when it was to take effect.

Libya has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with Switzerland since July 2008 after the brief arrest in Geneva of another Ghaddafi son, Hannibal, and his wife when two hotel servants complained he had mistreated them.

Justice authorities in Libya later barred two Swiss businessman from leaving the country and put them on trial for two separate cases of overstaying their visas and illegal business activities.

The pair, Max Goeldi and Rashid Hamdani, have been holed up at the Swiss embassy since July 2008.

Earlier this month a Libyan appeal court reduced Goeldi’s 16-month jail sentence for overstaying his visa to four months while Hamdani’s sentence on similar charges was dropped in January.

They were also both put on trial for alleged illegal business activities. The case against Hamdani was dismissed while Goeldi was ordered to pay an $800 fine.

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