Switzerland’s largest mosque, which has been embroiled in various controversies, has a new director, reports Swiss public radio, RTS. This follows calls for reforms by the secretary-general of the Saudi Arabia-based Muslim World League (MWL).
Switzerland’s largest mosqueexternal link has replaced the director of the Islamic Cultural Foundation of Geneva, which manages the place of worship in Petit-Saconnex, Geneva, according to RTS external linkand the Tribune de Genève newspaper on Thursday.
The previous director, Ahmed Beyari, who was in charge from 2012, stopped work at the mosque in early February and has taken retirement, RTS said. His replacement is a former Saudi ambassador who has been appointed by the MWL and approved by the Geneva foundation. A vice-director in charge of communication has also been chosen. Full details are expected to be presented soon.
The changes at the mosque follow a visit to Geneva last November by the secretary-general of MWL Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa and his vows to reform the place of worship to make it a “model of culture, dialogue and integration”. The former Saudi justice minister said if this was not achieved, MWL would seriously consider withdrawing all support to the centre.
In an interview with the Tribune de Genève on November 17external link, Al-Issa said errors had been made in past recruitment at the mosque.
Four French employees, including two imams, who had reportedly been placed by French officials on a backlist known as “Fiche S”, were removed from their posts soon after his November visit. Fiche S, or “S file status”, is reserved for individuals who are considered potential threats to French national security. Their lawyer said on Thursday that the four individuals were planning to file appeals against their dismissals before a Swiss court.
In last year’s interview, Al-Issa denied that the Geneva mosque was a centre for indoctrination of extremists. In 2015, the Tribune de Genève reported that 20 young extremists had attended the mosque for several months, two of whom allegedly travelled to Syria.
The Geneva mosque was inaugurated in 1978 by former Saudi king Khalid bin Abdulaziz. It is the biggest in Switzerland and can host 1,500 worshippers.