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Referendum to decide on minaret ban

November 29, 2009 - SWITZERLAND

A proposal to ban the construction of minarets, the slender towers attached to mosques, goes before Swiss voters in a referendum on Nov 29. The Swiss People's Party, the largest party in the Swiss parliament, proposed the ban. Supporters see minarets as divisive political symbols and signs of an increasing Islamic presence in Switzerland.

A proposal to ban the construction of minarets, the slender towers attached to mosques, goes before Swiss voters in a referendum on Nov 29. The Swiss People's Party, the largest party in the Swiss parliament, proposed the ban. Supporters see minarets as divisive political symbols and signs of an increasing Islamic presence in Switzerland. The Swiss Council of Religions, which includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders, has issued a statement rejecting the call for the ban. In a statement, Catholic bishops said the ban would hinder interreligious dialogue and that Swiss building codes already regulate the construction and operation of minarets. A BBC report noted that Switzerland only has two small minarets, one in Zurich and one in Geneva. It pointed out that mosques in Switzerland tend to be found in old warehouses and factories and the largest mosque in the Swiss capital, Bern, is in a former underground parking garage. The Catholic Church met similar opposition in 1832 when it wanted to build a huge bell tower for the Valentin Church in predominantly Protestant Lausanne. It was another century before the church was allowed its tower. Sep/09

Catholic bishops oppose minaret ban (SwissInfo 10 Sep 2009)

The new religious landscape (SwissInfo 22 Jun 2009)

Date written/update: 2009-11-29