ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has stripped a Libyan Muslim preacher of his refugee status nearly two decades after he won it following a media firestorm over his sermons that some have branded hate speech.
The man who goes by the name of Abu Ramadan has been in the headlines since a Zurich newspaper branded him a Islamist who incited hate in his sermons while living off more than 600,000 Swiss francs ($618,000) in social benefits.
The 64-year-old preacher denied the hate speech allegations, saying his remarks were poorly translated from Arabic.
In a ruling released on Friday, the Federal Administrative Court said immigration officials had been right to revoke Ramadan’s asylum after finding he had kept a Libyan passport and gone home a dozen times, most recently for more than a month this year.
The ruling is final and cannot be appealed but separate hearings will have to decide if the man can stay in Switzerland.
The preacher has told Swiss media he was unaware he could not travel to his homeland as a refugee and wanted to see his 93-year-old mother.
($1 = 0.9705 Swiss francs)
Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Catherine Evans