Saturday 20 July 2019

Vatican joins Muslim world to condemn Swiss minaret ban

Alexandra Williams in Geneva

Switzerland faced international condemnation yesterday from the Muslim world, Europe and even the Vatican following its vote to ban minarets on mosques.

Muslim organisations called it "discriminatory and abhorrent" and "an insult".

The outcome of Sunday's referendum, which will lead to a change in the constitution, proved a huge embarrassment for the Swiss government, which had urged voters to reject a ban championed by anti-immigration rightwingers.

It tried to assure the country's 400,000 Muslims, who make up 5pc of the population, that the outcome was not a rejection of their faith or culture.

Amnesty international was among rights organisations that said the ban breached guarantees on religious freedom in the European Human Rights Convention.

The Swiss Green Party said it may lodge a complaint at the Court of Human Rights.

Maskuri Abdillah, the head of Indonesia's biggest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, said the vote demonstrated "hatred" of Muslims by the Swiss.

"They don't want to see a Muslim presence in their country and this intense dislike has made them intolerant," he said.

Mufti Ali Gomaa, the Egyptian government's official interpreter of Islamic law, denounced the minaret ban as an "insult" to Muslims and "an attack on freedom of beliefs".

Freedom

Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, a British youth organisation, said it was a "sad day for freedom of religion".

"A constitutional amendment that's targeted towards one religious community is discriminatory and abhorrent," he said.

And a Vatican spokesman described the move as a blow to religious freedom.

The vote was triggered when almost 115,000 people signed a petition in favour of the ban. Switzerland uses direct democracy for single-issue politics, meaning citizens have the last word on many decisions.

With 2.67 million voters supporting a ban by 57.5pc to 42.5pc, and only four of the 26 cantons in opposition, it made the ban part of the constitution.

The vote was criticised by European neighbours but there were also warnings that it was a sign of growing discontent. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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