Swiss say two arrested men were friends of Vienna gunman

Swiss say two arrested men were friends of Vienna gunman
Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz places a candle at the scene of a terrorist attack in Vienna. (AFP)
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Updated 04 November 2020

Swiss say two arrested men were friends of Vienna gunman

Swiss say two arrested men were friends of Vienna gunman
  • Swiss police arrested two men, aged 18 and 24, on Tuesday in the town of Winterthur, 20 kilometers from the border with Germany
  • Both men, whose names have not been released, are already the subject of two criminal cases being prosecuted by the Swiss attorney general’s office

ZURICH: Swiss authorities confirmed on Wednesday that two men arrested near Zurich were “obviously friends” of a gunman who killed four people in a shooting rampage in Vienna and said police were investigating the full extent of their relationship with him.

Austrian police shot dead the gunman soon after he opened fire on Monday night on crowded bars in the city center. They identified him as Kujtim Fejzulai, 20, a convicted extremist who had dual Austrian and North Macedonian nationality.

Swiss police arrested two men, aged 18 and 24, on Tuesday in the town of Winterthur, which has become a focus of concern over incidents of radicalism in recent years. Austrian police have arrested 14 people as they try to establish whether Fejzulai had any accomplices.

Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter, in a panel discussion shown on the St. Galler Tagblatt newspaper’s website, said the two arrested men were “obviously friends” of the gunman. She said they had met “in person” but did not say when.

“The suspect in Vienna and the two men who were arrested in Winterthur knew each other,” a spokesman for Keller-Sutter’s ministry told Reuters in an email on Wednesday. “Authorities are investigating in close coordination the nature of their relationship.”

Both men, whose names have not been released, are already the subject of two criminal cases being prosecuted by the Swiss attorney general’s office (OAG) and which were opened in 2018 and 2019. The older man is a suspect in one of those cases.

Winterthur, once a prominent industrial center about 20 kilometers from the border with Germany, was the site of a now-shuttered mosque that officials said had attracted preachers who espoused “hate speech.”

Several young people from the Winterthur area who were linked to the mosque traveled to Syria to fight with Daesh. Membership and support of the militant group is outlawed in Switzerland.

In September, a man Swiss media dubbed the “Emir of Winterthur” and described as a leading militant in Switzerland, was sentenced to 50 months in prison for ties to Daesh.

Switzerland has largely been spared extremist violence, but authorities are concerned that the kind of attacks seen in neighboring France, Germany and now Austria could also occur on Swiss territory.

The OAG said on Wednesday that a fatal stabbing of a Portuguese man in September in the town of Morges, in western Switzerland, was still being investigated for a possible “terrorist motive.”
A Swiss-Turkish national has been arrested.


British Asian celebrities produce video to tackle coronavirus myths

 British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
Updated 20 min 40 sec ago

British Asian celebrities produce video to tackle coronavirus myths

 British-Asian celebrities have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine. (AFP/Screenshots/File Photos)
  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi are also included in the video

LONDON: British-Asian celebrities including cricketer Moeen Ali and comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Meera Syal have produced a video to dispel coronavirus myths and urge people to get a vaccine.

The video was organized by “Citizen Khan” creator Adil Ray, who said that he wanted to tackle falsehoods surrounding vaccinations for those from ethnic minority communities.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi are also included in the video.

Conspiracy theories and myths about coronavirus vaccines have caused concerns about uptake, particularly in the South Asian community.

“We all just feel we needed to do something,” Ray told the BBC.

He appears in the five-minute video with celebrities like former “Coronation Street” actress Shobna Gulati, who used her space in the clip to say: “We will find our way through this. And we will be united once again with our friends and our families. All we have to do is take the vaccination.”

Comedians Sanjeev Bhaskar, Asim Chaudhry and Ranganathan were on hand to debunk common coronavirus myths.

Ranganathan joked: “There’s no chip or tracker in the vaccine to keep watching where you go. Your mobile phone actually does a much better job of that.”

A recent poll commissioned by the Royal Society of Public Health showed that just 57 percent of black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME) would be happy to receive a vaccine, compared with 79 percent of white Britons.

Dr. Harpreet Sood, an NHS doctor heading up an anti-discrimination effort, said fake news and myths were likely behind the worrying numbers for the BAME community.

The UK government has recently started to tackle the problem directly, with UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick arguing that faith leaders were crucial to vaccine uptake. His announcement came as he opened the UK’s first vaccination center in a mosque.

Jonathon Kitson, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute, told Arab News: “Mass vaccination is the only way out of the pandemic, and it is great to see people from all backgrounds working to dispel myths, fake news and conspiracy theories like this.”

He added: “The faster the rollout can take place, the sooner we can get back to normal.”

Sam Bowman, co-founder of a new myth-dispelling website called “Anti-Virus: The COVID-19 FAQ,” told Arab News: “It is absolutely vital that everyone realizes that the vaccine is a safe, effective ticket back to normal life. It will mean that people of all ages are safe to see each other again, and go back out to work and their old lives.”

He added: “It’s great to see this video correct the misinformation being promoted — anyone pushing an unscientific anti-vaccine lie needs to be publicly contradicted and exposed as the shysters they are.”