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Update: Swiss Voters Ban Minarets


So much for Democracy and Freedom of Religious expression.

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.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the result reflected fear of Islamic fundamentalism.

“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.

The Islamophobes reaction is one of jubilation. Robert Spencer comments, “Swiss apparently vote to ban minarets, Because they symbolize a “political-religious claim to power” — which, of course, they do.”

Of course Pamela Geller wouldn’t be outdone by Spencer, she writes in a post titled Victory! Swiss Ban Mosque Minarets in a Landslide Vote,

HAMMER THEIR HELMETS! BLUNT THEIR BAYONETS! (metaphorical reference to no more mosques)The Swiss have hand enough. They actually had the spine to take back their country.

Further Reading on the story: Minaret Ban Wins Swiss Support

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    It’s fascinating to read how clueless you americans are about european politics. Thanks for the insight guys 😉

  • Garo

    To: iHungarian,

    Thank you for the Huffington Post link. As I checked the link you have graciously provided,I found another article dealing with the bigotry being expressedon on the internet and press against Islam abd Muslims. The two articles I have just finished reading on the Haffington Post website carry the following titles:

    “Swiss Radicalization: A Sighn of Things to Come?” by Ahmad Rehab.

    “Yale and the Danish Cartoons” by Kamran Pasha.

    I highly recommend reading both articles.


  • iHungarian

    Hey guys, I am new to this site, but I am already impressed. As far as the Swiss Minarets go, here is the best piece I have read on the controversy so far, a lot of food for thought:

  • Garo

    Re: Michelle,November 30,2009 at 12:58 pm.


    Thank you for the link of Juan Cole whose writings have been of interest to
    me,for years. I usually check his blog whenever my time allows me to do so.

    University of Michigan and its students,majoring in the disciplines he teaches,are lucky to have such a beaufiful mind. The link you provided in your above Re embodies plenty of information/knowledg that should be helpful to everyone interested in knowing facts,not opinions,related to the banning of minerates building in Switzerland,including even those who enjoy practicing bigotry as a way of making a living. Perhaps,they may leash their ugly practices a bit. Once again,thank you,Michelle,for an excellent link I had enjoyed reading.

    Most appreciated.

  • Garo

    Re: Paul,November 30,2009 at 7:40 am.


    Thank you for the link of the Gaurdian,you provided in your above Re.

    It is always good to read what Tariq Ramadan has to say about any topic concerning Islam and Muslims. His thoughts are always honest and never shy away from expressing his critical thinkings.

    I highly recommend that the link you provided in your above Re be read by everyone interested in understanding the totality of the CAUSES AND EFFECTS that produced the unfortunate result of the last voting in Switzerland.

  • Garo

    Re:Nabeela,November 29 at 1:00 pm.


    I totaly agree with every word and comment you expressed about Saudi Arabia
    especially prohibiting non-Muslims to enter,let alone visit,Mecca and Medina.

    Since the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)used to receive Christans and Jews in his mosques in those two cities,hence,banning non-Muslems to enter them does not make sense to me,indeed. Good to know that there is someone else who has similar ideas to mine.

    Thank you for your great posts.I have read them all,with enjoyment. Keep them coming.

  • Nabeela


    “its curious how islamophobes insist that their definition of the Islamic religion, fits all Muslims no matter their individual culture, political views, history. It is not surprising that this definition is some narrowed, rigid, radical, puerile form that falls perfectly in line with their own bigotry and hate and allows them to wallow in the comfort of their prejudices and ignorant pre-conceptions.
    Saudi Arabia is often given as an example by these ignoramuses of Islam at work, willfully ignorant that being a monarchic dictatorship its citizens do not have free will to worship in any which way they please.”

    To borrow your own phrase, it is “willfully ignorant” to ignore that Saudi Arabia has The Quran as the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of the Sharia (Islamic Law). Therefore it’s not just a corrupt monarchy, it’s a theocracy.

    “To put it simply a true picture of an ideology cannot be derived by observing the followers in a society that does not permit them the freedom to follow that ideology in a way they choose.”

    Islam is not an ideology. If you’re referring to my comments above, I meant that the Swiss can prod the Saudi’s (govt not people) and remind them that they have a duty to their minorities who go there to work.

    ” If it is more sinister than it seems, and the celebratory mood of bigots indicates that its is, then the likes Saudi Arabia can start pointing at the West, with some justification, and state that they are simly taking their cues from the lands of “freedom and democracy”.”

    Where does your sense of self entitlement come from? You begin your post by deriding bigotry against Islam, all well and good, but then you practice what you deride in others yourself.

    I mean if you’re a Muslim and your post infers that you are, then you should be aware that the religon that is the constitution of Saudi Arabia is over 14 centuries old, but democracy as we know it, is only a few hundred years old, so why should Saudi Arabia take their cue from the lands of “democracy and freedom”? Centuries ago, under Islamic rule, minority religions existed in the Arabian peninsula. Intolerance to other religons of the type shown in Saudi Arabia should NOT be done in the name Islam. You comment seems to infer that you DO think that “the lands of democracy” should be the standard bearers for womens rights and freedom, which shows your own ignorance of Islam.

    My point was that, even though banning the minarets has nothing to do with how Saudis treat their minorities regarding religon, this is a platform that can exploited to prod them. It would benefit those who don’t free worship in Saudi Arabia.

    The Swiss could say something to the effect:

    “At the same time we would remind Saudi Arabia to…..

    perhap’s your sense of self entitlement prevents you from seeing that.


    I know the issue is unrelated to your update above, but as i said to Arsha, indirectly it is related, I have not seen any condemnations or statements by Saudis regarding the minarets. Perhaps because they know they’d be accused of hypocricy. Do you know if there have been any?

    and maybe the Swiss should exploit that opportunity. If the Saudi’s are building and funding mosques in Switzerland then they should be reminded of their own intolerance to non Muslims.

  • Paul


  • Nabeela


    “The Islamist scholar Tariq Ramadan, born and raised in Switzerland, has an analyis at The Guardian. It is worth reading (and much better than the often ill-informed comments here).”

    Your comment infers that you have specialist knowledge in this subject?

    If so please share with us what that may be, if you don’t mind, as we could all learn more.

  • Michelle

    Juan Cole’s comment on this whole episode is worth reading:

  • Finally a country with some Sense.. why chance the radicals coming in when the good muslims are too scared to step up and say so.

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