TRIPOLI, Libya — Liby’s leader called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland on Thursday because of its ban on mosque minarets — escalating a long-running diplomatic feud between the two countries.
Muammar Qaddafi also urged Muslims everywhere to boycott Swiss products and to bar Swiss planes and ships from the airports or seaports of Muslim nations.
“Those who destroy God’s mosques deserve to be attacked through jihad, and if Switzerland was on our borders, we would fight it,” Qaddafi was quoted by Libya's official news agency JANA as saying. He spoke before a gathering marking the birthday of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel declined to comment on Qaddafi's call for a holy war against the neutral Alpine republic.
In November, Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets, in a controversial decision that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population.
Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as biased and anti-Islamic and business groups warned that the decision could damage relations with Muslim nations and wealthy Islamic investors who bank, travel and shop there.