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November 29, 2009

Swiss Voters Ban Minarets

This does not apply to existing minarets (there are only four in all of Switzerland). It blocks the building of new ones.

Supporters of a ban argued minarets are a symbol of an Islamic claim to power.

"The Islamic religion is intolerant, but we do not want to limit freedom of religion, we want to outlaw the political symbol," says Ulrich Schlüer, a member of the rightwing Swiss People's party and one of the leading promoters of the anti-minaret initiative.

The group says it is time to act now before Christian values are undermined and violence flares in Muslim ghettoes as in neighbouring European states.

Supporters claim there is public concern about the growing Muslim community in Switzerland, radical imams, the role of women, as well as head scarves and other dress codes.

Immigrants
The number of Muslim immigrants has increased to about 350,000 (up to 4.5 per cent of the Swiss population) since the 1990s. Most of them came from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey and are considered moderates.

There are an estimated 160 mosques and prayer rooms in Switzerland, mainly in disused factories and warehouses. Only four of them have a minaret, including the mosques in Geneva and Zurich.

In the wake of heated debates at a local level about requests to build more minarets, members of the People's Party and the Federal Democratic Union collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote.

Apparently the Swiss are not so neutral about plopping a towering symbol of Islamic authority in their picturesque Alpine landscape.

Oh, no indeed. The anti-minaret propaganda is rather in-your-face.

The political class is aghast at their countrymen. Who knew there were so many NASCAR fans in Switzerland?
Polls not long before the vote registered about 37 percent support for the measure, but that ballooned to 59 percent at the exit poll.

Tell me where you fall on this issue. I'm torn.

On one hand, it's an unambiguous message from ordinary folks to their political elite (and to muslims). They see Islamist aggression not far beyond their borders and they will not allow it to metastasize within their own nation.

On the other, it was a public vote on what is acceptable religious symbolism, which is dangerous and gives me the willies.


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posted by LauraW. at 09:39 AM

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