Biel has announced that it will open a contact centre for preventing extremism and violence. The news comes in the midst of a scandal over a local imam who preached hatred while receiving Swiss welfare.

The new service is designed to help the authorities recognise potential cases of radicalisation and offer advice and support. The police could become involved in risky cases, officials said. The centre, which will also deal with other forms of violence such as hooliganism, will open its doors on September 1. It can be reached by email or telephone.

The setting up of the centre was not directly linked to the Libyan imam who was revealed earlier this week to be preaching messages of hatred against other religions at a mosque in Biel, while claiming welfare, officials added. Swiss public television SRF reported that he had received CHF600,000 ($620,000) in benefits so far.

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