Monday, November 30, 2009

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.

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 against 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.

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.

Al Jazeera

Blog Archive

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed


Copyright Muslims Against Sharia 2008. All rights reserved. E-mail: info AT
Stop Honorcide!

Latest Recipients of
The Dhimmi Award
Dr. Phil
George Casey

The Dhimmi Award

Previous Recipients of
The Dhimmi Award

Latest Recipient of the
World-Class Hypocrite Award
Mainstream Media

World-Class Hypocrite Award

Previous Recipients of the
World-Class Hypocrite Award

Latest Recipient of the
MASH Award
Dr. Arash Hejazi

MASH Award

Previous Recipients of the
MASH Award

Latest Recipient of the
Yellow Rag Award

Yellow Rag Award

Previous Recipients of the
Yellow Rag Award

Latest Recipient of
The Face of Evil Award
Nidal Malik Hasan

The Face of Evil Award

Previous Recipients of
The Face of Evil Award

Latest Recipients of the
Distinguished Islamofascist Award

Distinguished Islamofascist Award

Previous Recipients of the
Distinguished Islamofascist Award

Latest Recipient of the
Goebbels-Warner Award

Goebbels-Warner Award

Previous Recipients of the
Goebbels-Warner Award

Muslm Mafia

Latest Recipient of the
Evil Dumbass Award
Somali Pirates

Evil Dumbass Award

Previous Recipients of the
Evil Dumbass Award

Insane P.I. Bill Warner
Learn about
Defamation Campaign

by Internet Thugs

Latest Recipient of the
Retarded Rabbi Award
Shmuley Boteach

Retarded Rabbi Award

Previous Recipients of the
Retarded Rabbi Award

Latest Recipient of the
Mad Mullah Award
Omar Bakri Muhammed

Mad Mullah Award

Previous Recipients of the
Mad Mullah Award

Stop Sharia Now!
ACT! For America

Latest Recipient of the
Demented Priest Award
Desmond Tutu

Demented Priest Award

Previous Recipients of the
Demented Priest Award

Egyptian Gaza Initiative

Egyptian Gaza

Note: majority of users who have posting privileges on MASH blog are not MASH members. Comments are slightly moderated. MASH does not necessarily endorse every opinion posted on this blog.


Muslims Against Sharia
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Hasan Mahmud

Tewfik Allal
Ali Alyami & Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
Zeyno Baran
Brigitte Bardet
Dr. Suliman Bashear
British Muslims
for Secular Democracy

Center for Islamic Pluralism
Tarek Fatah
Farid Ghadry &
Reform Party of Syria

Dr. Tawfik Hamid
Jamal Hasan
Tarek Heggy
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser &
American Islamic
Forum for Democracy

Sheikh Muhammed Hisham
Kabbani & Islamic
Supreme Council of America

Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh
Nibras Kazimi
Naser Khader &
The Association
of Democratic Muslims

Mufti Muhammedgali Khuzin
Shiraz Maher
Irshad Manji
Salim Mansur
Maajid Nawaz
Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi
& Cultural Institute of the
Italian Islamic Community and
the Italian Muslim Assembly

Arifur Rahman
Raheel Raza
Imad Sa'ad
Secular Islam Summit
Mohamed Sifaoui
Mahmoud Mohamed Taha
Amir Taheri
Ghows Zalmay
Supna Zaidi &
Islamist Watch /
Muslim World Today /
Council For Democracy And Tolerance
Prominent ex-Muslims
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Magdi Allam
Zachariah Anani
Nonie Darwish
Abul Kasem
Hossain Salahuddin
Kamal Saleem
Walid Shoebat
Ali Sina & Faith Freedom
Dr. Wafa Sultan
Ibn Warraq

Defend Freedom of Speech

Islamists claiming to be Moderates
American Islamic Group
American Muslim Alliance
American Muslim Council
Al Hedayah Islamic Center (TX)
Canadian Islamic Congress
Canadian Muslim Union
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Dar Elsalam Islamic Center (TX)
DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc. (TX)
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (Closed)
Ed Husain & Quilliam Foundation
Islamic Association for Palestine (Closed)
Islamic Association of Tarrant County (TX)
Islamic Center of Charlotte (NC) & Jibril Hough
Islamic Center of Irving (TX)
Islamic Circle of North America
Islamic Cultural Workshop
Islamic Society of Arlington (TX)
Islamic Society of North America
Masjid At-Taqwa
Muqtedar Khan
Muslim American Society
Muslim American Society of Dallas (TX)
Muslim Arab Youth Association (Closed)
Muslim Council of Britain
Muslims for Progressive Values
Muslim Public Affairs Council
Muslim Public Affairs Council (UK)
Muslim Students Association
National Association of Muslim Women
Yusuf al Qaradawi
Wikio - Top Blogs