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Swiss vote to ban minaret construction


Swiss voters have overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets, barring construction of the iconic mosque towers in a surprise vote

Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as biased and anti-Islamic.

Business groups said the decision hurt Switzerland’s international standing and could damage relations with Muslim nations and wealthy investors who bank, travel and shop there.

‘The Swiss have failed to give a clear signal for diversity, freedom of religion and human rights,’ said Omar Al-Rawi, integration representative of the Islamic Denomination in Austria, which said its reaction was ‘grief and deep disappointment’.

Some 2.67 million people voted 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent in favour of the referendum by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which labelled minarets as symbols of rising Muslim political power that could one day transform Switzerland into an Islamic nation. Voters in only four of the 26 cantons or states opposed the initiative, granting the double approval that makes it part of the Swiss constitution.

Muslims comprise about 6 per cent of Switzerland’s 7.5 million people. Many are refugees from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and fewer than 13 per cent practice their religion, the government says. Swiss mosques have not traditionally broadcast the call to prayer outside their own buildings – there are currently only four minarets in the whole of Switzerland.

The sponsors of the initiative said the growing Muslim population was straining the country ‘because Muslims don’t just practice religion. They increasingly make political and legal demands’.



Architects’ views

Mangera Yvars Architects’ Ali Mangera, who masterminded the original London super-mosque proposals, said: ‘Decisions like this should be placed on architectural factors, not a pretext against Islam. This is more to do with the emasculation of a group of people – the right wing is behind this.

He added: ‘[Minarets] are not ideal for every part of London and they are not just about the call to prayer. But they are interesting features and also function as natural air conditioning mechanisms. ’

Adrian Stewart, director of Do Architecture, which designed the minaret-less Al-Furqan Mosque in Glasgow for the UK Islamic Mission, said: ‘This is being used to isolate a community. A minaret is not a critical component of a mosque and does not always have to be involved. The debate has been blown out of proportion. We know from experience there is a desire to generate a regionalism, which makes a mosque very much more about its location.’


Readers' comments (6)

  • I'm moving to Switzerland.....

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  • "in a surprise vote". Surprise to who? Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Switzerland - particularly outside the major cities - would not be surprised in the slightest by this outcome. Switzerland is a wonderful country, but it has a long tradition of continuity, an "island" confederation in a globalising world. There have been many claims of Islamaphobia levelled against Switzerland - I am not sure this is decision really is that at all - but either way, those who were surprised by this vote cannot claim to understand the Swiss very well.

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  • A Muslim talking about diversity, freedom of religion and human rights? Let's build a church in Mecca then . . .

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  • I am Swiss and I am very surprised - and embarrassed.

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  • feriHa  ozTURK

    It is huge embarrassment for Switzerland, which is a European country.
    If it is political movement for Muslims which are increasingly make political and legal demands in Switzerland, why they are talking about minarets?
    And it is written that there are currently only four minarets in the whole of Switzerland.
    And in all Muslim countries there are many churcs which are still having bell towers.
    This is not problem about minarets,and the solution is not mosque without minaret!

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  • I think that the ban on the construction of minarets is going to create religious rebel in the Europe and I think that by taking this kind of decision Swiss is approving anti islamic propaganda in europe.

    Portable Storage,

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