Swiss Vote to Ban Minarets

sob

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European countries continue to struggle to terms with their relations with the Islamic World and also the rising number of Muslim immigrants in their countyr.

In a referendum in Switzerland the voters in a fairly convincing margin voted for a ban on minarets. This means that the construction of Mosques is banned in Switzerland.

Swiss voters back ban on minarets

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.

More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland's image, particularly in the Muslim world.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the surprise result is very bad news for the Swiss government which also fears unrest among the Muslim community.

Our correspondent says voters worried about rising immigration - and with it the rise of Islam - have ignored the government's advice.

"The Federal Council (government) respects this decision. Consequently the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted," said the government in a statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.


This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland

"These concerns have to be taken seriously. However, the Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies," she said.

She sought to reassure Swiss Muslims, saying the decision was "not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture".

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets.

After Christianity, Islam is the most widespread religion in Switzerland, but it remains relatively hidden.

There are unofficial Muslim prayer rooms, and planning applications for new minarets are almost always refused.

Supporters of a ban claimed that allowing minarets would represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system - Sharia law - which are incompatible with Swiss democracy.

But others say the referendum campaign incited hatred. On Thursday the Geneva mosque was vandalised for the third time during the campaign, according to local media.

Before the vote, Amnesty International warned that the ban would violate Switzerland's obligations to freedom of religious expression.

'Political symbol'

The president of Zurich's Association of Muslim Organisations, Tamir Hadjipolu, told the BBC that if the ban was implemented, Switzerland's Muslim community would live in fear.

"This will cause major problems because during this campaign in the last two weeks different mosques were attacked, which we never experienced in 40 years in Switzerland.

"So with the campaign... the Islamaphobia has increased very intensively."

Sunday's referendum was held after the People's party collected 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months calling for a vote.

SVP member of parliament Ulrich Schluer said the campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

In recent years many countries in Europe have been debating their relationship with Islam, and how best to integrate their Muslim populations.

France focused on the headscarf, while in Germany there was controversy over plans to build one of Europe's largest mosques in Cologne.
 

icecoolben

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The swiss incident is not isolated as well. After the exposure of bombing in london, day to day terrorism in middle east like Iraq, afghanistan and the islamic fundamentalists rule in afghanistan by taliban & the havoc they created on their own society, have led to nervousness among western europeons. Though europe has stood for freedom of individual, now they have become scared of a community they can't just under stand outright.

Rise of islamic extremism has done more harm to the muslim community than anything legitimate for their cause. Its time islamic youths realized this. The entire world would continue to isolate muslims and view them with suspicion as if they were cousins of osama. Youths like kasab should think twice before taking up arms for a cause they don't understand, fight an adversary not of their choice and die for a leader they may never know. God bless them.
 

sob

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Swiss brace for minaret backlash

In the cold night air, they gathered.

First in threes and fours, until it became a bigger group. They carried candles and their anger - upset that Switzerland had approved a vote to ban minarets, the prayer towers on top of mosques.

They first read about the demonstration on a website and decided to join. And as the night got colder, the numbers got bigger, 50, 60, all denouncing the surprise result.One woman told me: "This speaks against religious freedom in our country".The police kept a watchful eye.

Will of the people

The opinion polls thought there would be a narrow "no" vote. They called it wrong. Moments after the polls closed, the exit surveys were predicting a "yes". And they were right.

In front of the bright lights of the media centre, close to the parliament, the country's justice minister announced the will of the people had to be accepted. The constitution would be changed.The small, slight dark-haired figure of Eveline Widmet Schlumpf insisted this was not a vote again Islam, but a simple ban on minarets.

"The ban on construction of new minarets does have the effect of restricting the freedom to display the Muslim faith to the outside world by erecting a minaret," Schlumpf said.

"However, the freedom to profess one's faith in Islam and to practice the religion alone or in the community is not affected in any way."

Switzerland has 160 mosques and cultural centres. We know this because it was included in the referendum fact pack sent to voters. Only four have minarets.
The ban was promoted by the right-wing People's Party, which ran a controversial poster campaign to sway voters.

Their argument was that this was just the start for those who wanted an Islamic state in Switzerland. There was never any concrete evidence to back up the rhetoric.

'Genuine fears'

Martin Baltisser is one of the party's senior officials. He's heard the claims that this was a racist campaign, bordering on Islamophobic.

"It wasn't racist. It was an opportunity to discuss people's genuine fears and it was a very good discussion."
The turnout was much higher than expected. As we stood outside the school, which was used as a polling station in one of Bern's suburbs, they even turned up an hour before it opened, so keen were they to cast their vote.
And like those putting together the opinion polls, all we spoke to insisted they opposed the ban.

The Swiss government will now introduce article 72, paragraph three into the Swiss constitution, banning the construction of minarets.

Opposition parties are talking of a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights. What was meant to be a short debate on the future of Islam, now has the potential to become a long-running open sore.

Muslim communities say the decision will spread deep concern and worry. The Swiss government and businesses are worried too - about whether this controversial but democratic ballot will provoke an international backlash.[/
QUOTE]
 

Flint

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Very strange referendum. The Swiss are known to be a Xenophobic people in any case. They even refuse to integrate with EU.
 

sob

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This is a wave which is sweeping Europe. With their low birth rates the Europeans are afraid that the Muslim immigrants from Turkey, Algeria and other countries could soon have a sizeable presence.

Recently we have seen even in France there were disturbances over the Egypt-Algerian football match. The French are also quite worked up over this issue.

IMO this fear of being swamped by Muslim migrants is the main reason why Turkey has been denied membership of EU.
 

Flint

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^No, the reason is because Turkey has not met the criteria for membership (democracy,freedom of speech, freedom of religion, economic criteria etc.)
Don't conflate the two issues.
 

sob

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Reply to flint

Most of the points you have mentioned are correct but the underlying opposition to the Turkish membership was a fear that as part of EU Turks would swamp western Europe.

The other points were just a convinient tool.

Here is an old article in the BBC on European resistance to Turkish membership of EU.

Analysis: EU views on Turkish bid

Most EU countries officially welcome the prospect of Turkish membership: albeit at least a decade from now and subject to consistent evidence of Turkey's commitment to democratic values.

In contrast, public opinion in most EU countries appears, with varying degrees of intensity, to oppose Turkish membership.

Reasons cited for opposition include: Turkey's large population (70 million and rising fast); its relative poverty and doubts about its cultural compatibility with Europe. The French, Germans and Austrians seem especially unhappy with the idea.

Here is a breakdown of attitudes in some of the EU member states:

GERMANY: Opinion polls say up to three-quarters of the population oppose Turkish membership. Of the two largest political parties, the Social Democrats (SPD) say they want a "modern Turkey in the EU"; the Christian Democrats (CDU) oppose membership - proposing instead a "privileged partnership". Angela Merkel - the CDU candidate for chancellor - has appealed to EU leaders not to "encourage" Turkey.

FRANCE: Has the largest percentage of Muslims (7%) in the EU. Officially backs Turkey's membership bid. But Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin says Turkey must first recognise Cyprus. However, Nicolas Sarkozy - leader of the ruling UMP party and likely future presidential candidate - is opposed. Only 20% of public opinion says Yes to Turkey joining. A leading political pundit, Guillaume Parmentier, says: "The Turkish elite has been European for centuries; but the vast democratic expansion of Turkey involves Anatolian peasants, who are not European by culture, tradition or habit". The French have been promised a referendum after the conclusion of negotiations.
 

sob

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Opposition to the Swiss refrendum

Just switched off the TV in disgust watching all the English language media and our politicians taking the high moral ground on their opposition to the Swiss ban on minarets. Somebody should explain to them only minarets are being banned and not places of worship.

Countries like Saudi Arabia refuse entry of even a photo or any other religious symbols of other religions into their country, leave aside permitting them to construct a place of worship. But i do not see our great TV channels, NDTV, Times NOW, CNN IBN etc along with our politicians raising this issue with the Saudis. so many thousands of Indian hindus , Sikhs Chritains work in SA, but they can't worship in their church temple or Guurdwara.

Enough of such Pseudo secularists, throw them out of the country.
 

enlightened1

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Italy could be the next European country to consider a referendum on the building of Islamic minarets following the Swiss vote to ban the structures.

Cabinet minister Roberto Calderoli, of the xenophobic Northern League, said Italy should confirm its Roman Catholic roots and hold a vote as soon as possible.

Like the Swiss, Italian voters can have a direct say on an issue if a minimum number of signatures are gathered calling for a referendum.

The League is expected to now start the process for a referendum, despite the Vatican expressing unease over the Swiss vote.

Official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano compared it to a decision by the European Court of Human Rights last month to ban crucifixes from Italian classrooms - a decision that provoked widespread outrage in Italy.

Calderoli said the Swiss decision was a triumphant 'yes to bell towers and no to minarets' that served as an important example for other European countries losing touch with their Christian identities.

He added: 'Respect for other religions is important, but we've got to put the brakes on Muslim propaganda or else we'll end up with an Islamic political party like they have in Spain.'

Others within the anti-immigration Northern League have called for a cross to be inserted on the Italian national flag to symbolise the deep Christian roots of the country.

Italy has one of the tallest minarets in Europe standing just a metre shorter than St Peter's Basilica, at the Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Rome.

The country has around 1.2 million Muslims, making Islam the second religion after Catholicism.

The Northern League have frequently made headlines for their views on Islam and immigration, most notably during the Danish cartoon row in 2006, when Mr Calederoli wore a T-shirt emblazoned with one of the anti-Islamic images.

They have also allowed pigs to graze over sites where mosques were earmarked in order to make them unholy, while recently, the Northern League was accused of racism after it emerged that a local scheme to rid a town of illegal immigrants had been nicknamed 'White Christmas'.

Today the United Nations called Switzerland's ban on new minarets 'clearly discriminatory' and deeply divisive.

The Swiss foreign minister acknowledged today the government was very concerned about how the vote would affect the country's image.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Sunday's referendum to outlaw the construction of minarets in Switzerland was the product of 'anti-foreigner scare-mongering'.

The criticism from Pillay, whose office is based in the Swiss city of Geneva, comes after an outcry from Muslim countries, Switzerland's European neighbours and human rights watchdogs since 57.5 per cent of the Swiss population ratified the ban.

The Swiss government opposed the initiative but has sought to defend it as an action not against Islam or Muslims, but one aimed at improving integration and fighting extremism.

'These are extraordinary claims when the symbol of one religion is targeted,' Pillay said in a statement.

She said she was saddened to see xenophobic arguments gain such traction with Swiss voters despite their 'long-standing support of fundamental human rights.'

The referendum doesn't affect Switzerland's four existing minarets, or the ability of Muslims to practice their religion. It only bans the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.

But wealthy Arab tourists might think twice now about spending their money in Geneva and other Swiss cities, and the neutral country's efforts to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could also suffer.

In Athens today, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the government was worried about the ban.

'We are very concerned with this referendum. The reality of our societies in Europe and throughout the world is that each limitation on the coexistence of different cultures and religions also endangers our security,' Calmy-Rey said during a meeting of foreign ministers of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

'Provocation risks triggering other provocation and risks inflaming extremism,' she added.

Sunday's referendum, which was backed by nationalist parties, forced the government to declare illegal the building of any new minarets.
 

Flint

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Most of the points you have mentioned are correct but the underlying opposition to the Turkish membership was a fear that as part of EU Turks would swamp western Europe.

The other points were just a convinient tool.

Here is an old article in the BBC on European resistance to Turkish membership of EU.

Analysis: EU views on Turkish bid
Convenient tool? The FACT is that Turkey does not meet the basic membership requirements. How is that a convenient tool? If Turkey met the requirements, and was then denied membership, perhaps you would have a point.
________________________

I agree that the Indian media is a tad overzealous to prove their secular credentials. Having said that, this referendum is totally nonsensical. It make no sense whatsoever to ban minarets across the country.
 

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India should go on a hyper offensive against this ban.

Will be an excellent way to promote softpower within the Muslim world(Refer to Ejazr's thread) and be a brilliant PR coup of Indian pluralism.
 

Known_Unknown

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Just switched off the TV in disgust watching all the English language media and our politicians taking the high moral ground on their opposition to the Swiss ban on minarets. Somebody should explain to them only minarets are being banned and not places of worship.

Countries like Saudi Arabia refuse entry of even a photo or any other religious symbols of other religions into their country, leave aside permitting them to construct a place of worship. But i do not see our great TV channels, NDTV, Times NOW, CNN IBN etc along with our politicians raising this issue with the Saudis. so many thousands of Indian hindus , Sikhs Chritains work in SA, but they can't worship in their church temple or Guurdwara.

Enough of such Pseudo secularists, throw them out of the country.
You are comparing a democratic, industrialized supposedly "progressive" country to a autocratic monarchy where the state religion is Islam. Isn't the comparison in itself quite ridiculous? When was the last time the Saudis promoted themselves as the bastion of freedom and pluralism?

We know how the Saudis are and they don't hide it. Unlike the Swiss who present a certain image of themselves to the world, and practice the polar opposite of it.
 

Known_Unknown

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What's with Europe anyway? Yesterday, it was Jews, now it is Muslims. They will never learn to accept multiculturalism, will they? On one hand, they need legions of foreign immigrants to keep pouring into their countries to save themselves from dying out, and on the other, they act hostile to the very people that make up that gap.
 

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Pluralism does not mean having your country and culture and values overrun by other cultures that have highly obscurant ideas about faith and its role in the country that are contrary to your values.

If you want to see the underbelly of Muslim immigration in Europe with all its warts, then just go to a Pakistani neighbourhood in London or some of the other Muslim neighbourhoods in England or to some of the Muslim parts of France.

Even liberal Muslims recoil when they see the behaviour of some Muslim groups in the UK for the first time.

These people take advantage of the European system of tolerance and liberal values and undermine the system by bringing to Europe their tribal, cultural and religious values into a country where they already have an established system. Everything from blasting Prayer azan calls in the morning, to honor killings of daughters, burqas, etc, are imported in the name of multi-culturalism.

After a while the local people just get sick of them. Can you blame them ??

If you want to migrate to a foreign country, then accept and respect the pre-dominant culture, values, and ethos of those countries !!!

Otherwise go and live in Pakistan or Saudi or wherever. If you really want sharia law implemented nationwide and endless azan calls at all hours of the day, then why live in England....go live in freaking Pakistan, or Saudi or Egypt.

Switzerland has every right to say that they want to maintain the Judeo-christian cultural fabric of their country. Unlike India, Brazil, US, - Switzerland is and has always been a fairly homogeneous society just like Japan, Greece, Scandinavian countries.

These countries have small populations and have provided their citizens with some of the highest standard of living and best quality of life of any countries in the world.

They certainly dont need any lectures from Indians or from any of the many screwed-up Muslim countries on this planet on how to run their countries. They have done very well for themselves.
 

Flint

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Poll breakdowns indicate that people from rural Switzerland who have little contact with muslims voted in favour of the ban, whereas urban populations who are exposed to muslims in daily life tended to vote against.
 

truthfull

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Just switched off the TV in disgust watching all the English language media and our politicians taking the high moral ground on their opposition to the Swiss ban on minarets. Somebody should explain to them only minarets are being banned and not places of worship.

Countries like Saudi Arabia refuse entry of even a photo or any other religious symbols of other religions into their country, leave aside permitting them to construct a place of worship. But i do not see our great TV channels, NDTV, Times NOW, CNN IBN etc along with our politicians raising this issue with the Saudis. so many thousands of Indian hindus , Sikhs Chritains work in SA, but they can't worship in their church temple or Guurdwara.

Enough of such Pseudo secularists, throw them out of the country.
i aggree with you, except army and some of 10 % population ,rest all suffer from inferitia complexia considering us as low and our culture. but wait for gods justice to such countries. See the stand taken by eu against turkey. if india has been the place of eu he has given membership to saudis also. like india is propagating membership fo pakistan in asean but benefit we will get from including pak in asean ,pranab mukhrejee has stated that india will support pak for nuclear deal like india. see tnhis fool attitude.
 

Flint

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i aggree with you, except army and some of 10 % population ,rest all suffer from inferitia complexia considering us as low and our culture. but wait for gods justice to such countries. See the stand taken by eu against turkey. if india has been the place of eu he has given membership to saudis also. like india is propagating membership fo pakistan in asean but benefit we will get from including pak in asean ,pranab mukhrejee has stated that india will support pak for nuclear deal like india. see tnhis fool attitude.
Sorry, but do you know about what "stand" the EU has taken against Turkey?
Turkey has a powerful army that in the past could dismiss governments if they were perceived to be non secular enough. Any hint of Islam or Islamic rhetoric in the political discourse used to lead to things like arrests and court proceedings. This was opposed by Europe because it was seen as a breach of freedom of speech and other political freedoms. In order to gain acceptance in the EU, Turkey recently elected an Islamist (relatively) political party, and the army immediately moved to sue and dismiss the government. However, the government has managed to stick on.
Turkey has some of the severest restrictions on religious freedoms in Europe. Hijabs/headscarves were banned from universities and schools (which I believe has been reversed by the current government).
 

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Swiss are proud of their culture and language.

So much that they first speak to foreigners in Swiss German...only if the other person does not understand that they use english.

In zurich there are less than 40% swiss people...so the fear is justified.
 

Flint

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Swiss are proud of their culture and language.

So much that they first speak to foreigners in Swiss German...only if the other person does not understand that they use english.

In zurich there are less than 40% swiss people...so the fear is justified.
People from cities like Zurich opposed the ban, while people from rural-regions of Switzerland supported it. How do you explain that?
 

sob

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You are comparing a democratic, industrialized supposedly "progressive" country to a autocratic monarchy where the state religion is Islam. Isn't the comparison in itself quite ridiculous? When was the last time the Saudis promoted themselves as the bastion of freedom and pluralism?

We know how the Saudis are and they don't hide it. Unlike the Swiss who present a certain image of themselves to the world, and practice the polar opposite of it.
sir, you missed my point by a mile. I am not at all comparing the Saudis to the Swiss. My post was in relation to the people who have come out in India in protest against this attack on religious freedom, do not have the guts to take up the issue in an international fora.

It is not my place to argue whether the Swiss have done the right thing or the wrong thing, it is their country and they can make laws which as long as do not degenerate into like what Adolf Hitler did to the Jews.

The point we can argue is that if the Swiss go on tom tmoing about religious freedom to other countries than their hypocracy stands exposed today to the ridicule of the other nation states.
 

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