Swiss vote to ban mosque minarets
Switzerland has banned the building of minarets, the tall striking spires attached to mosques, after Swiss voters supported a referendum proposal.
The bid to ban minarets was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which is the largest party in the Swiss Parliament. It claims minarets are a sign of Islamification. But the Swiss Government opposed the ban, warning that it could damage Switzerland’s image in the Muslim world.
More than 57 per cent of voters and 22 out of 26 provinces voted in favour of the ban.
Martin Baltisser, the SVP’s general secretary, told the BBC: ‘This was a vote against minarets as symbols of Islamic power’. Supporters of the ban claimed that allowing minarets would signify acceptance of Sharia law which is incompatible with Swiss democracy.
But a BBC correspondent, Imogen Foulkes, said the ban was bad news for the Swiss Government, which is anxious the decision could cause unrest amongst the Muslim community. The Vatican condemned the Swiss ban on minarets as a ‘blow to freedom of religion’.
Switzerland is home to 400,000 Muslims; Islam is the nation’s second most widespread religion after Christianity. The country has just four minarets and new planning applications are almost always refused.