Switzerland: On the path to ban minarets

A recent vote revealed the Swiss are likely to back the ban of minarets in their country. They may then be about to infringe freedom of religious expression.

There are only 4 minarets in whole of Switzerland for a population that includes 400,000 muslims. And yet, minarets become a controversy today in this country.

Supporters of the ban, like member of parliament Ulrich Schluer, say “a minaret is a political symbol. It is a symbol for introducing, step-by-step, Sharia rights in Switzerland, parallel to the Swiss law which is a result of Swiss democracy.” Since when does building towers hurt democracy?

 

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Minarets, to me who is not a muslim, in a country where the call to prayer is not allowed to sound anyways, are just tall towers with an oriental edge to them. They are like christian’s church bell towers. Is there any country where church bell towers are banned?

The Swiss People’s Party, says “minarets are a sign of islamisation“. Islam is already the second most widespread religion in Switzerland, right after Christianity. As a BBC report mentions, it only “remains relatively hidden” and “there are even unnoficial muslim prayer rooms”.

 

The consequences of banning minarets

All it seems for now is that this ban creates more tension than is needed at the moment between the muslim community and those who favor the ban in Switzerland. Imogen Foulkes, BBC reporter in Bern, states that “the Swiss government fears banning minarets would cause unrest among the Muslim community and damage Switzerland’s relations with Islamic countries.”

In addition, Amnesty International has already condemned Switzerland’s ban. Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, says a “ban on the construction of minarets while, for example, allowing those of church spires would constitute discrimination on the basis of religion.” It would signify that Switzerland is violating “freedom of religious expression“.

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