Swiss Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Mosque Minaret Ban
November 29, 2009
(ChattahBox)—Today, an overwhelmingly majority of Swiss citizens voted in favor of a ban on the construction of Muslim Mosques having the distinctive architectural features of tall spires and conical crowns, called minarets. The citizen’s referendum was launched by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), a far-right political party, which stoked fears of an “Islamic conquest” of Switzerland, suggesting that the spread of mosques with minarets would lead to the practice of radical Sharia law and ideology.
The Swiss government and the United Nations Human Rights Committee have condemned the minaret ban, as discriminatory which will lead to increased anti-Islamic hate.
After collecting 100,000 signatures within 18 months, the SVP was able to place the proposed ban to a vote, which would compel the Swiss government to amend its Constitution to prohibit the building of minarets, but not of mosques without the distinctive spires.
Ulrich Schlueer, co-president of the Initiative Committee to ban minarets believes that minarets would lead to the adoption of Muslim ideologies in his country. “Forced marriages and other things like cemeteries separating the pure and impure – we don’t have that in Switzerland, and we do not want to introduce it.”
Despite government opposition to the People’s Party’s initiative, over 57 percent of Swiss voters approved of the ban on minarets. The Swiss government is concerned such a ban would tarnish the country’s image abroad and prove harmful to the Swiss economy.
About 400,000 Muslims, mostly immigrants from Turkey and the former Yugoslavia, reside in Switzerland among a population of about eight million. Islam is the country’s second largest religion after Christianity.
The People’s Party’s campaign for the minaret ban, led to International condemnation of the “sinister” and “racist” poster used to garner support for its voter initiative. The poster showed a woman wearing a burqa in front of a Swiss flag, with several minarets resembling missiles in the background. The Swiss Commission Against Racism, said the offensive posters insulted the country’s Muslim minority and could result in a backlash against Muslim citizens.
Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Committee says, a ban on minarets would violate an international UN rights charter.
Only four Muslim mosques in Switzerland have minarets.