Swiss Muslim Group Denies Wrongdoing Over Jihadist Documentary

President of the Islamic Central Council Switzerland Nicolas Blancho (L) and Naim Cherni deny claims that their documentary on jihadi fighters in Syria glorifies them. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

ZURICH, Dec 21 – An executive at a Swiss Muslim organisation said on Monday that a documentary he had made about jihadists in Syria was intended to shed a harsh light on their activities rather than glorify them as prosecutors have alleged.

A criminal investigation against Naim Cherni, head of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland’s (ICCS) multimedia department, was launched with the country on high alert after the Islamist State attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 which killed 130 people.

Speaking at a news conference in Berne, Cherni said his film was “an important contribution in the fight against Daesh”, the SDA news agency reported.

He described the criminal investigation against him, announced by federal prosecutors on Saturday, as “rather weak and politically motivated”, SDA said.

ICCS President Nicolas Blancho accused prosecutors of overreacting and playing into the hands of extremists by launching a frontal attack on what he called mainstream Muslims.

The Swiss criminal investigation has accused Cherni of violating a ban on jihadist groups.

Cherni, from Berne but with a German passport, is accused of travelling to Syria in October and interviewing the leader of a jihadist umbrella group as well as the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is affiliated with al Qaeda.

He subsequently released a roughly 40-minute video, in Arabic with German subtitles, documenting their exchange.

Prosecutors allege he presented his journey to embattled regions of Syria for propaganda purposes without having explicitly distanced himself from al Qaeda activities in Syria.

ICCS has around 3,500 members, or around 1 percent of the Muslims living in Switzerland, SDA reported.

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