Switzerland could become the latest European country to ban Lebanon's Hezbollah

Switzerland could become the latest European country to ban Lebanon's Hezbollah

A ban of Lebanon's Hezbollah in Switzerland will mean that the group's assets and bank accounts will be seized and frozen.

2 min read
24 August, 2020
Hezbollah is a major political party in the country [Getty]
Switzerland is looking into banning Iran-backed Hezbollah, a move that follows in the footsteps of neighbouring Germany, which banned all the Lebanese group's activities inside its territories earlier this year. 

The Swiss federal council agreed on Wednesday to look into reports on the activities of the Shia group inside Switzerland, which could lead to a full ban and see any Hezbollah assets in the country frozen.

The move was prompted by the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, after party politician Marianne Binder submitted a bill in June calling for a ban of movement's political wing for "calling for armed struggle and rejecting Israel's right to exist".

"The EU previously banned the [military] arm that engaged in terrorist activities," the document read. "It is not known which activities Hezbollah is developing in Switzerland. In view of the neutrality of Switzerland, however, the activities of Hezbollah cannot be legitimised and a report is also advisable for reasons of security policy."

A ban could mean that supporters of the movement would be banned from carrying Hezbollah flags at protests or sharing its symbols in public settings. 

If the ban passes, Switzerland would not be the first European country to outlaw the group. In April, Germany announced it banned the movement, calling it a "Shia terrorist organisation".

Although the group has no official presence in Germany, security forces believed its members used the country as a safe haven and to raise funds. Like the European Union, Germany had until then only outlawed Hezbollah's military division while tolerating its political wing. 

Read also: Saudi calls for Hezbollah to be 'punished' after Hariri verdict

The UK also outlawed Hezbollah's political wing last year, making membership of the Shia movement or inviting support a crime. 

Hezbollah, which backs Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the country's civil war, is seen by Israel as an Iranian proxy seeking to build up its military presence and Syria and threaten Israel. 

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria over the past few years against what Israel says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

Hezbollah was established in 1982 during Lebanon's civil war. It is now a major political party in the country, where its allies hold a majority in parliament. Israel and Hezbollah also fought a 2006 war.

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