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The Swiss Nora Illi, the Co-founder of the Swiss Central Islamic Council, Dies Aged 35

The Swiss convert to Islam, Nora Illi, died on Monday at the age of 35 after a long illness. She advocated many rights such as wearing the niqab.

Nora Illi, a famous Islamic preacher who co-founded the Swiss Central Islamic Council (IZRS), died on Monday at the age of 35, after a long illness. As the IZRS now reports, Nora Illi has lost the fight against breast cancer diagnosed in 2012. She is survived by six children and her husband.

Originally from Zurich, Illi converted to Islam in 2002, aged 18, after a trip to Dubai. Prior to this, she had been a punk and had also been interested in Buddhism.

Nora Illi was born in 1983 to a German psychotherapist and a Swiss social worker. Illi dropped out of high school and trained as a polygraph. In addition, she became active in the punk scene of her hometown Uster ZH. As an 18-year-old, she converted to Islam.

At a solidarity campaign for Palestine, she met her future husband, Schaffhausen’s Patric Illi (now Qaasim Illi). In 2003 they married in Jordan. Together, they subsequently represented the Swiss Islamic Central Council (IZRS) in public: Nora Illi as the commissioner for women’s affairs, her husband as the PR manager.

Influence of chemotherapy

She was known in public for always wearing her Niqab. Illi was an advocate of polygyny. This differs from polygamy in that a man may have several women, but a woman may only have one man.

In the talk show Anne Will in 2016, she was defending the woman’s right to wear niqab. Thus, she was falsely accused of supporting extremist groups like ISIS. Replying to this false accusation, she stressed that any Muslim whether in Switzerland or any other country in the world should denounce and avoid violence.

Bussenfang in Ticino

As a Niqab activist, Illi publicly caught fines: After the ban on veiling came into force in the canton of Ticino in July 2016, she received the first banned buses because of her public appearance in the Niqab. In 2017 she also had to pay for her veiling in Vienna.

Her husband, Qaasim Illi on the passing of Nora Illi, said, “We are overwhelmed by your tributes from all over the world – Thank you!” Keep her and us in your du’a’.


Sources: 20min.ch/schweiz/ (as cited in allaboutgeneva.com) with some modifications.

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By Hanif Kruger

BIO for Hanif Kruger

Hanif is the manager at the Assistive Technology Centre of the South African National Council for the Blind with more than 30 years of experience in the assistive technology and IT fields. Hanif’s passion is assistive technology and advocating for key issues affecting people with disabilities and more specifically the blind and vision impaired. He shares his love for Assistive Technologies through sharing information through his work and via social media and relevant events in order to spread the knowledge and awareness around new technologies and the challenges relating to AT for PWDs. A strong believer in the rights of persons with disabilities and the philosophy of “nothing about us without us”, he regularly push for the affordability and accessability of AT and matching the correct assistive technology solutions with a person in order for them to reach their full capacity. Hanif enjoys a good Netflix and Apple TV+ binge but can also be found walking both his guide dogs looking for cookies .

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