Libyan group calls for boycott of Switzerland
Dec 3, 2009, 14:48 GMT
Tripoli/Geneva - A Libyan organization called Thursday for an economic boycott of Switzerland and urged Muslims to withdraw any assets they have from banks in the Alpine country, in response to the referendum passed this week banning minarets.
The latest censure from Libya, from the World Islamic Call Association, follows several similar condemnations from groups in the authoritarian regime, though none had demanded specific sanctions.
Reports had earlier indicated Libya would place two Swiss men on trial, for a second time, for allegedly violating the country's economic laws.
The two businessmen were sentenced to 16 months in jail earlier this week for violating visa laws, also following condemnations of the minaret vote, which passed with a 57 per cent majority.
The businessmen, Max Goldi and Rachid Hamdami, remain at the heart of a diplomatic row between Switzerland and Libya that stretches back to June 2008. First, Geneva police arrested Hannibal Gadaffi, son of Libyan leader Moamer Gadaffi, and his wife at a hotel on allegations that they were beating their servants.
The two were released shortly thereafter and reportedly reached a financial settlement with the servants.
Four days later, the two Swiss men, who were working in the country, were arrested for allegedly violating visa laws. They have been unable to leave Libya for 16 months, and have disappeared at points.
Diplomatic relations have deteriorated - the most recent sign of which was Libyans being banned from attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland - and trade is down to a trickle.
Swiss President Hans Rudolph Merz traveled to Libya in August and apologized to Libya for the Geneva arrest and said he was promised the two would be released.
He faced heavy criticism at home for the apology and for failing to secure their release.