Man fined 210 Swiss francs for saying ‘Allahu akbar’

The Local
10 January 2019
Police in the Swiss city of Schaffhausen have defended their decision to fine a man who used the words “Allahu akbar” in public.

The incident in May 2018, which saw the man fined 150 Swiss francs (

€132) plus 60 francs in administrative charges, came to light this week after the 22-year-old involved went public with his story.

The young man, named by Swiss media as Orhan E., said he used the Islamic phrase ‘Allahu akbar’, which literally means ‘God is [the] greatest’, to express his amazement after spotting a friend of his near Schaffhausen’s goods train depot.

While he was speaking in Turkish to that friend, he was approached by an off-duty police officer. The policewoman then fined him for causing a public nuisance because he had used the phrase Allahu akbar in a “loud and clear” manner.

Local police have since defended the fine, saying the officer acted appropriately.

“At the time, there was a possibility that people could have become afraid or shocked,” a media spokesperson for the force, Patrick Caprez, told local daily Schaffhauser Nachrichten. The phrase ‘Allahu akbar’ has often been used by terrorists before carrying out attacks.
Schaffhausen security chief Romeo Bettini also backed the force’s decision to fine the man.

Bettini noted the manner in which the phrase had been spoken was key in the 2018 incident and added police officers would have acted in the same way if someone had run around a local square swearing loudly.

“It is completely wrong to say this phrase [Allahu akbar] is forbidden in Schaffhausen,” he said.

He added police always used their judgement as to what constituted a nuisance.

But Orhan E. denied he “shouted” the phrase, as asserted by police in their original report.

“I didn’t want any problems and I spent two minutes trying to explain why I had said what I did,” he told Schaffhauser Nachrichten.
Speaking to Swiss news site 20 Minuten, the man said: “We use ‘Allahu akbar” as a greeting and in almost every second sentence. When the weather is good, for example. We use it when we want to say we think something is positive.”

But the young man said his attempted explanation at the time hadn’t helped. The officer had called for armed back-up and the 22-year-old was “manhandled” while police demanded that he apologize.

He added he was threatened with jail if he didn’t pay the fine.

“I was born here [in Switzerland] and have never experienced anything like this. We live in a free country with religious freedom. Arbitrary police behaviour is not acceptable,” he said of the incident.

The man paid the fine promptly because he was afraid of jail time, he said.

He also told the Schaffhauser Nachrichten he had now come forward because he had heard of another similar incident in December where a border guard allegedly punched a young man who had said “Allahu akbar”.

“Just because terrorists misuse these two words doesn’t mean I have bad intentions when I say them,” he said.

Amir Dziri, Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg, said he believed it was unusual to use the phrase Allahu akbar – often used in Islamic liturgy – as a greeting, but noted this could be youth slang.

The professor said police had acted appropriately but also expressed his sympathy for the young man.

“If he really used the phrase in a harmless context then one can understand that he felt discriminated against,” he said.

“If this phrase was criminalized across the board it would be impinge on religious freedom,” Dziri said.

Zurich anti-racism group People-of-Color has now launched a criminal complaint against police in Schaffhausen.


9 replies

  1. The height of IGNORANCE of another culture and religion, I’d say!

    I believe the non-Muslim world out there, including (and especially the highly ignorant media), had better educate themselves regarding Muslims and that they come in all kinds of colours, creeds and languages from all over the world and the fact that they react to surprises and awe in various ways, but most of all in praising God and the various phrases we use in doing so.

    Now, according to this ignorant cop, if she’d heard the adhan being called she’d have arrested the guy, would she? Since we start it with Allahu Akbar, it’d be interpreted as a terrorist was about to do something horrible.

    The western world is becoming totally daft and intolerant!

  2. As we see the fact that all the extremist Muslim and terorist often use the word AllahuAkbar when they killed people, wgen they destroyed Mosque or Church etc—
    So I believe that the extremist Muslim misuse the word of allahu Akbar—

    So non Muslim has the right to ban Muslim to say in publict, they are afraid of terorist act—.in publict.

    Let us urge Muslim not to use the Allah’s word in publict to scare people.

    All love ❤️

    • Well, I usually had a higher opinion of people, thinking that it should not be so difficult to distinguish a criminal terrorist from a humble believing Muslim.

      • call me foolish if you like, but when I want to say ‘Alhamdolillah’ I will say ‘Alhamdolillah’, whether in public or in private.

  3. Allah said in Bible:

    Do not use MY Name for evil purpose, for it God will punish anyone who misuse My Name Exodus 20:7.

    So Muslim should obey this Allah’s word!!

    All love ❤️

    • The man in the article did not use the word for an “evil purpose” he saw a friend who he had not seen for a very long time and said “Allah is the greatest” because he was overjoyed to see him. It is understandable for officers to act this way because of the past and they want to keep everyone safe but the officer was there and saw this man say those words but was happy and was speaking to his friend. He was not doing anything that was causing anyone harm so the officer should have also assessed the situation properly.

  4. This is disappointing because the man was charged even though he did not have the wrong intentions. I hope that people do not continue to misuse these terms.

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