Swiss vote to ban new minarets too close for comfort

November 27, 2009


(Photo: Poster to vote “yes” to minaret ban in a Swiss meadow, 13 Nov 2009/Dario Bianchi)

A threatening image dominates Switzerland’s streets in the form of a dark woman dressed in a Muslim niqab veil, looming over a Swiss flag covered with missile-like minarets with a call to vote “yes” in a referendum on Sunday to ban minarets on mosques here. The posters clearly seek to tap into the concerns of the country’s traditionally Christian majority about increased immigration from Muslim countries.

“I find the nature of these posters very provocative against the Islamic world. The presentation and the way the minarets are presented like rockets is unbelievable. Also the colours — with all the black — look very threatening,” says 34-year-old air traffic controller Judith Baumer.  “I assume that it’s supposed to trigger strong emotions or fear in the population.”

minarets-trainThe poster, described by the Swiss race commission as demonising Muslims and provoking religious tensions, has been banned in some cities but seems omnipresent in others.

(Photo: Vote “yes” posters in Zurich’s main train station, 26 Oct 2009/Arnd Wiegmann)

Polls suggest the referendum could be close-run. With only a slim majority of Swiss questioned expressing opposition or a tendency to oppose a ban, turnout and currently undecided voters could yet sway the vote towards behind the “‘yes” campaign.

“It’s fine to build minarets in a Muslim country, not in Switzerland. I’m strictly against that,” says unemployed electrical fitter Rolf Waechtler.  “People from abroad are ok with me, but I’m in favour of them putting minarets directly there: abroad.”

The anti-minarets initiative was organised mainly by members the right-wing Federal Democratic Union (EDU) and Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which won the largest share of the vote at the last election on rising anti-foreigner sentiment in Switzerland spurred by increased immigration.

minarets-polyglotUnder Swiss law citizens have the right to force referendums on any issue provided they collect enough signatures in support of their initiative.  But the Swiss government and other parties — including the Conservative Democratic Party (BDP), which broke away from the SVP in 2008 — oppose a ban, warning it would violate the country’s constitution and stir religious tension.

(Photo: “Yes” posters in German, French and Italian at SVP meeting in Geneva, 3 Oct 2009/Valentin Flauraud)

The Swiss vote is just the latest example of mistrust between Muslim and Christian communities that has created tensions and fuelled support for far-right groups in other European countries as well.

It is all the more surprising because Switzerland’s Muslims, who make up around 4 percent of the 7.6 million-strong population and are mainly of European origin, are a low-profile minority. There are also just four minarets in the entire country.

Three attacks on one of these few mosques with minarets, in Geneva, this month could indicate the ban is already having an effect on race relations in the country.

minarets-vote-no1The initiative has been slammed at home and abroad and a ban would damage Switzerland’s reputation as a neutral country that upholds freedoms of worship, speech and expression. It could lead to the radicalisation of some members of a Muslim community generally regarded as well integrated into Swiss society.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International say a ban would contravene Switzerland’s international obligations to uphold human rights.

(Photo: Poster to vote “no” to the minaret ban by Geneva interfaith group, 21 Nov 2009/Denis Balibouse)

And the Swiss think tank economiesuisse warns it would damage business at a time when the country’s private banks, hit hard by the relaxation of Swiss bank secrecy, are stepping up attempts to attract more business from Muslim clients around the world with new Islamic banking products.

On Sunday, the world will see whether Switzerland’s voters use their model of direct democracy to defend the country’s long-cherished values of tolerance and freedom or instead choose to isolate their country’s biggest religious minority.

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Bravo Switzerland.What people seem to forget is that Islam is not merely a belief system. It is an economic,judicial, social system that; once Islam becomes the law of the land, has no tolerance for dissenters, and others deemed a threat to power.

Posted by John Parham | Report as abusive

Muslims seem not to object to restrictions on every religion other than Islam in Islamic countries, including restrictions on the building of churches and temples. This is only a ban on one architectural feature. Religious tolerance has up until now been a one way street.

Posted by Leon | Report as abusive

So much for freedom of choice. When it comes to Islam in Europe, freedom of choice doesn’t apply. This is called double-standards. Why now also outlaw all those obelisks?

Posted by qoia | Report as abusive

This is rising fashizm in europe again. Europe going back to dark age again.

Posted by Duncan | Report as abusive

Why is it questioning Swiss neutrality? Its not Mosques they are banning just the Minoretes. And are not the Muslems of their own threatning the whole world????If they wish to practice their Laws and beliefs why move to a Christian country in the first place? English people are SOOO threatned by them laws are passed every day to undermine the rights of Christian English [sorry wrong!! British, were not allowed to be English now]

Posted by Len Jennings | Report as abusive

Hurray for the Swiss! Someone needs to take a stand against political correctness. It is going to sink the United States. Liberals in the US have a self-flagellation going that the rest of the country is trying to save itself from.

Posted by Vickie | Report as abusive

I am shocked and truly dismayed by the Swiss vote and by the comments posted so far to this article. The majority of the Swiss have just declared themselves to be intolerant and bigoted. They have singled out a minority with an unfair, even oppressive restriction. As the one sane commentator so far said, this is fascism pure and simple. This is equivalent in my book to burning crosses or to requiring the Jewish population to wear a Star of David on its sleeve. I’m an American…I don’t know Swiss constitutional law, but I hope the Swiss high court can somehow overturn this decision. I am not a Muslim. I am a Christian. But it really doesn’t matter my or anyone else’s religious beliefs – this is an issue of civil rights. I hope the UN censures Switzerland over this travesty. I don’t want to believe that the majority of the Swiss really feel this way. This might be a case of good, clear-headed people not doing anything while evil is allowed to prevail. If that’s the case, then I pray that the real Switzerland rises up and corrects this error. The true terrorism in this story is the one waged against the public in the form of fear-mongering banners and hateful language and now heaped upon the Muslim population by a democratic system that should have protected them.

Posted by Allen | Report as abusive

Maybe the US should try Swiss style direct democracy?The Swiss just voted to ban minarets on mosques and this is a great exercise of their unique form of direct democracy regardless of your views on the subject. But my question is why do the Swiss get to overrule their politicians and parliament and here in the US, we don’t have that right?Let’s bring Swiss style direct democracy to the United States so Americans can vote on the Wall Street bailouts, government health care, whether to audit or abolish the FED, or require Congress declare war before we invade another country. Read why Switzerland is free and America is not and help restore citizen control over the US government and Congress currently under control of special interests. .1.1.html

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

When the leader of “moderate” Islamic countries make comments like: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Minarets are our bayonets,” he said. “The domes are our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the believers our army.” it is no wonder. For all those bleeding hearts, I suggest you try to build a church in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. Let me know how goes for you.

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

Excellent show of democracy, Switzerland.Despite the howls of protest from the ecunemical crowd.Freedom of choice, is and remains freedom of choice.Switzerland has spoken, period.Any comparisons to fascism are insult to intelligence and nothing more than someone trying to bully the vote.I would be inclined to see what the political background is of the person saying such crap.If my city can tell me I have to cut the grass or tell me where to build, then I can move or comply to city ordenances.What is the difference?

Posted by madjack | Report as abusive

The Reuters article abandoned all semblense of “unbiased”reporting.This article was structured to push an agenda.Thank you Switzerland, my faith is restored.This is an example of democracy at work and kudos to you guys for excersizing it.

Posted by madjack | Report as abusive

I dont see any difference between german Nazi and switzerland.I am not a muslim myself but i would never go to such a country in future which has no values and is outright racist.Such countries should be banned forming any ties with EU.Where does EU stand on such issues which i think is a total lack of respect and neglect for human rights .Bobby UK

Posted by Bobby Chaks | Report as abusive

Note that in the debate over whether to ban minarets certain Swiss cities felt no compunction about banning a poster arguing for the ban. Free speech for me but not for thee, I guess – except that political speech is supposed to be more protected than a simple architectural form.Furthermore, there are maybe 2 or 3 Islamic majority countries where Christians feel safe practicing their religious beliefs at all.

Posted by Bill Alden | Report as abusive

** “The majority of the Swiss have just declared themselves to be intolerant and bigoted.” **They did? How about wanting to protect their country and it’s culture? How about simply not wanting a particular architectural form? What neighborhood do you live in? Is it covenant protected? Are mobile homes allowed?** “They have singled out a minority with an unfair, even oppressive restriction.” **How is banning a minaret oppressive? And what, by the way, are the policies in the countries these Muslims come form? Are churches allowed? Cathedrals? Prosleyting?** “As the one sane commentator so far said, this is fascism pure and simple.” **Define fascism. I’ll wager you don’t have the first idea what it actually means. And how the hell do you know the mental state of prior commenters?** “This is equivalent in my book to burning crosses or to requiring the Jewish population to wear a Star of David on its sleeve.” **Wow – you have a pretty stupid book, then.** “I’m an American…I don’t know Swiss constitutional law, but I hope the Swiss high court can somehow overturn this decision.” **Yeah, because nothing says freedom and self-determination like a tiny handful of members of an unelected elite overturning the express will of the people.** “But it really doesn’t matter my or anyone else’s religious beliefs – this is an issue of civil rights. I hope the UN censures Switzerland over this travesty. I don’t want to believe that the majority of the Swiss really feel this way.” **Perhaps the UN should censure all of the Muslim countries in the world (which is pretty much all of them) where Christians are not allowed to freely practice their religion. But I won’t be holding my breath.Or perhaps it’s a majority of the Swiss population seeing the intolerance and violence sponsored in European countries by so-called “oppressed minority” immigrant Muslims and deciding they’d rather not have that in their home country. Muslims are not native to Switzerland. They have chosen to move there, and, in fact, are far better treated in Switzerland than the Swiss would be in any Muslim country. In fact, they are probably better treated in Switzerland than they were in their home countries. They do not have to move there. They are free to stay in their native countries.

Posted by Bill Alden | Report as abusive

This is likely to cause problems for the Swiss – but for everyone complaingin about the lack of religious freedom in europe, where does religious freedom rate in Islamic countries. Clearly some a better understanding from all sides is needed.

Posted by alan | Report as abusive

The Swiss did a great job – even though it was a mainly intuitive and emotionalized decision and hardly a fully rationalized and considered one. These kind of national decisions – heavily influenced by culture-bound ideologies, “rights” and “wrongs”, in short, systems of overall meaning and sense-making of our world – must be made by taking two times an emic perspective:- once the own one, our ideologies and ethical assumptions of the social life for a respectful, integer and economically successful living-together; e.g. the basic Swiss laws such as the constitutional right of religious freedom;- once the one of muslims and especially their views and reactions to our very ideologies constituted by these lawsThis is very difficult as hardly anybody fully understands both sides. Yet, when judging such initiatives we must acknowledge that it is a dynamic “cause-and-effect” matter within different systems of meaning.Considering this, the outcome of the initiative is positive: We don’t need a “battle of cultures” but a mutually respectful living-together. And one-sided tolerance – and this would have been it, check how “tolerant” muslim countries with christians are – is definitely no solution to it. This is not “rising fashizm” in soft, liberal and tolerant Western Europe, they are protecting themselves from foreign “fashizm”!

Posted by joti | Report as abusive

Gosh. I’m a Korean and not religious but am shocked at this new as well as all the articles here. I understand many problems with Islam but how can such a thing happen in a country like Switzerland? Is it me alone that feel like the offending poster reminds Nazi stuff? That’s provocative and based on “hate” against outsiders. Probably what normal Swiss feel everyday with influxing Islam immigrants might be more than I can imagine, but still this is not right. What would you guys say one day all the Islam immigrants one day come back with greater population and ban Christianity? Would you call it sanity and democracy still?

Posted by anonyguru | Report as abusive

Right now we are condemning countries in the Middle East for the way they treat religious minorities like the Baha’is and Christians, how long until they are condemning us for the way we are treating our Muslim communities. A sad sad day indeed.

Posted by Michael Botterill | Report as abusive

God bless the Swiss for recognising that their country was being “colonised”. Petro dollars are paying for the colonization of countries throughout the world. Simple test! If the muslim immigrants won’t assimilate then they are “colonists”! And you are being colonised! Wake up England! Are there any God fearing Englishmen left? The history I have seen and been part of makes me glad I am old and won’t live to see the liberals “believe” they have accompolished their goals, right before the Muslims “eat their lunch” One Order sure, but it will be Muslim Order. The joke is on all the f—- liberals.

Posted by J.P.Becker | Report as abusive

Direct democracy is how an elementary school class decides if it gets orange or apple juice on a given day. It is not how nationwide policies should be made.It is 57 people telling 43 to go xxxx themselves, and then, of course, there are guns to back up the majority.If you think direct democracy is the bee’s knees, try contemplating the shoe being on the other foot, if that’s not too much for your imagination.Direct democracy is divisive by its very nature. When the result is binary, it says “There is a place for us, and there is a place for you.”Minarets will never, ever blow anybody up. I’m certain suicide bombing is illegal in Switzerland, as it should be.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

The Swiss are not intolerant. Here a quote from Karl Popper: We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

Posted by John S. | Report as abusive

Irony abounds. The intolerant thrive in a society that tolerates them; and similarly, a society that is free but cracks down on intolerance loses some credibility in existential arguments about whether a society can truly claim to be free if it does not allow opponents of freedom to operate. But ultimately, a free society has an obligation to foster tolerance, and that means occasionally having to stamp out the intolerant that have taken advantage of that society’s freedom.

Posted by Will | Report as abusive

What are you going to do next, Swiss volk? (Hint! Consult Nazi history or try Googling “kristallnacht.”)Can I vote for banning Swiss immigrants to the US?

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive

All Swiss people (even the ones who voted for it) should hope that the ban is overturned in the courts because abandoning commitment to freedom of religion is a road leading nowhere good…Though I am disgusted by the Swiss I will say that if Americans should have a similar national referendum we would probably have a majority vote in favor of expelling all brown people. Or re-enslaving them.That is why a democratic system must have a system to protect the human rights of minorities from the brutality of the majority.

Posted by Sarah | Report as abusive

The religion of peace is gonna bomb the hell out of Switzerland for this!!!

Posted by terry hadley | Report as abusive

I’m a liberal, and I say good for Switzerland! Why shouldn’t they protect their culture like the Muslims do who immigrate to foreign countries and who do not try to assimilate? Who want to enact Sharia law over the law of the country to which they immigrated? Why should a religion that preaches oppression of half its population (females) be shown tolerance? I’m sick of the idea of tolerance being used to defend practices/belief systems/behaviors of cultures that are oppressive and harmful. Slavery was a cultural norm and defended via Biblical writings. Should we have tolerated that? The Swiss aren’t even saying they can’t practice their religion. Get over it or go back to the wonderful country you felt the need to leave for some reason and build your minarets there.

Posted by flit | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why most people are taking potshots at the Swiss. All that they did was voice their concern. It is a pity that everyone seems to be against Islam. But then this situation is a creation of Islam itself. Tolerance can never be a one way street. They have to understand this. Every now and then surveys come out pointing to the fact that many Muslims favor Sharia law in western countries. This is disturbing. They are trying to use the freedom that these countries grant them to undermine that very freedom. If someone stands up and tries to make a symbolic protest against it, they are termed racist.

Posted by Jay Kain | Report as abusive

Way to go!

Posted by Afan | Report as abusive

I am dismayed at some of the commenters here, who accepted the reasoning given by the proponents that the minarets symbolize sharia law. I would strongly suggest they educate themselves on the cultures of the world OTHER than their own and see that minarets are a part of Islamic architectural culture more than anything else.

Posted by Sue S. | Report as abusive

Too much hypeI’m swiss and would like to make a few comments. Delimiting the scope of religious freedom is always a tricky issue. If I were to profess that my religion required human sacrifice, this would clearly remain illegal even with the strongest protections on religious freedom. How about financial exploitation of believers? The lines are not so clear. From what I understand of Islam, the minaret is not an essential part of the faith. In certain schools of Islam, the minaret is reserved for the largest mosques with the number indicating importance – a bit like christian cathedrals versus country chapels. In other schools of Islam, minarets are the norm. But are they essential practice the faith?What was voted in Switzerland is a ban on the construction of new minarets. New mosques may still be constructed in addition to the hundreds already present. Muslims may still practice their faith.While the details differ, the minaret’s function is similar to that of the church bell, to remind people of the importance of their religion and to call them to prayer. How many churches across the cristian world do without a bell? How many churches in countries where christians are clearly a minority congregate in simple local buildings, auditoriums, conference centers? I personally have visited a christian ceremony held in a parking garage. Does the absence of a church bell really impair their religius freedom? And finally, how many muslim countries would allow the construction of a cathedral?

Posted by B-swiss | Report as abusive

I think the law is totally GHEY. If someone owns the land, he/she should be able to put any freakin structure on it. Those intrusive people who want to pass laws on what people can build on their property are the same types who want to take away my God given right to bear arms. Those people can be checked by the democratic process. Swiss Muslims should be relieved that it is only a vote. Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are located in Iraq and are being decimated by killings and coerced emigration. The Christian population went from 800000 to 500000 from 2003 to 2008. If that isn’t ethnic cleansing, I don’t know what is. Oh, guess who’s killing the Iraqi Christians? Are Muslims in Iraq and other countries protesting these atrocities? No, they’re worried about head scarf laws in France. Here in the US, I need not worry about the spread of Islam and Sharia law. My compatriots and I are armed and ready if someone is going to TRY to force me to pray 5 times a day and observe Ramadan.

Posted by red | Report as abusive

Ironic that one of the smallest European Countries has the stiffest backbone. Maybe the rest of these cowardly Euro-Weenies could take a lesson in character from those irascible Swiss!Try to build a Cathedral in Saudi Arabia and see what religious intolerance is all about. Hell, just bring a Bible there with you in your luggage; you better not get caught with it!In Rome do as the Roman do!Those you don’t like it can proudly stay in their toxic pit of intolerance; pre-medieval spiritual rubbish like Sharia Law has no place in the civilized Western world.

Posted by Global_Citizen | Report as abusive

[…] measure is designed to curtail Islam. Hitherto held among the most liberal democracies, Switzerland now faces international condemnation for such a blatant (if superficial) suppression of religious freedom. The measure is a cipher for a […]

Posted by Neutrality takes no side but that of convenience | Newsblog | Report as abusive

Well thats perfect. Its really good that swiss had the guts and moral courage to do it. Rest of the EU countries should follow the same suit. This is a christian society and there is no place for islam in this society. The next step should be to ban islam also.Islam can live in their own islamic countries. Not here. By the way what is the contribution of islam to the development of mankind in european society. How many big industries they own? How many inventions they have?What is their percentage of skilled human capital? I think less than 1%.

Posted by Robin | Report as abusive

Any poster who cries “racism” or bigotry is ill-informed, overly-politically correct and using specious judgement. The left and liberal governments and mainstream press in the West have much to answer for in this regard. They consistently misreport what’s going on, downplay the atrocities and general nuttiness that is inherent in much of Islam (and it’s stated goals of installing sharia law in any region where Muslims live).Islam is a source of great evil in this world and the only religion that actively subjugates people of other religions or forcibly converts them. Whether it’s Pakistani Muslims killing Priests and Christians in Pakistan, or Eqyptian Muslims foreably converting Coptic Christian women, or Russian Muslims killing a Russian Orthodox Priest who dared to try to convert Muslims in Tatarstan, or any one of a thousand other atrocities that have been committed in the name of Islam, it’s all there for the Press and the West to read and understand, but organizations like Reuters and the mainstream press continue to downplay and ignore the horrors. (Islam is not a religion of Peace as George Bush and Obama and the feckless leaders of the West constantly preach. It’s a way of life – both political and religious – that seeks to foist it’s values, beliefs and even laws on every society it enters.Over 40% of Muslims in the UK want to install Sharia law there, and the UK government now allows some cases to be decided by sharia. Unbelievable.What else do you need to know to make this understandable?Read the facts, question left-leaning news outlets like Reuters (who are pretty much pro-Islam really), and just stop being a politically-correct drone who accepts what our foolish press and government says every day (that native Europeans and whites are somehow all “racist”).

Posted by Johnny | Report as abusive

I see far more intolerance here on this webpage from those rabidly against the vote to ban the construction of tall circular towers in Swiss cities than the vote itself. Many of these ignorant comments seem to stem from people suffering under the delusion that the Swiss have banned Muslim worship. All that was banned were minarets, not mosques, not religious gatherings and not the open practice of that religion. It is essentially a building code issue that has become polarized. And those that call it rascist are really out there drooling away. How many of you have ever visited Switzerland? Most buildings here are many hundreds of years old and the building code on most any structure is very restrictive.Generally, I think the Swiss are getting tired of being picked on with regard to interference by the US and EU engaging in their extraterritorial campaign to bring Switzerland to their levels of taxation and personal freedom – similar to throwing acid in a beautiful face when it makes you look ugly . This is all what happens in response. People start to stand up against oppressive forces.Let’s have some rationality in this argument. And hopefully you out there will start to stand up against your own oppresive forces instead of butting into other peoples interests that you have little if any understanding of.

Posted by John Galt | Report as abusive

Human Rights activists have immediately climbed on the bandwagon to protest the results (results they don’t like) of what was a democratic vote in a sovereign country. Where are the Swiss voters’ human rights, may I ask? Too long the tail has been wagging the dog. Any self-interest, minority group now can protest and protest until they get what THEY want. I thought true democracy was dead. The Swiss have restored my faith in the system, to a degree. Let’s see them and the rest of the west stand up to Amnesty International and all the other self-seeking groups that would impose a minority stance on the majority. Let freedom ring!

Posted by Lynda J | Report as abusive

To Sarah: I read your posts with alarm! No doubt your liberal education has skewed your thinking to eliminate the possibility that a nation can protect the rights of the majority as well as the minority. Your liberal teachers see Nazis in every conservative politician and a redneck majority around every corner, just waiting to bully a minority. Pick up a copy of A.G. Gardiner’s short story, On the Rule of the Road. There must be compromise to live in peace. Living in peace, for the majority of Swiss, obvious does not include being wakened early in the morning to a blast of call to prayer. As many other posters have asked cannot the Muslims worship in their mosques without the fanfare from a minaret?

Posted by Lynda J | Report as abusive

Hurray Switzerland: they have guts and they are not full of.(you know) and lies(Unlike @Sarah, @qoia, @Allen, and so on).A message to some US libs and some ultra US conservatives, and to the white gay community pretending being heterosexual(you know the ones who voted Obama): Why don’t you go f… live in Saudi Arabia and explain them about democracy and freedom rather than lecturing Switzerland(which is a country far more developed than yours about quality, not quantity).

Posted by Vincent | Report as abusive

Lynda: close but no cigar — you might have wanted to check if any minarets in Switzerland issue a public call to prayer that might irritate some local residents. Not a single minaret in Switzerland does this.

Posted by CJJones | Report as abusive

I congratulate the Swiss and I support them in their decision to ban Minarets on their territory hardly earned. At least their have the guts and backbone to stand against those intolerant muslim people. Europe is a christian society we do not want those narrow minded societies on our soil. If they are not happy in their own countries because of the lack of democracy. they have to fight for it. If they want to come to Europe then change religion and participate in the evolution of the human beings.

Posted by Marc | Report as abusive

Just read the rest of the postings — my God you people are all sick in the head!!

Posted by Anne | Report as abusive

Congratulation to the swiss people and that is true democracy , government of the people for the people. for those complaining i will like to inform you that there is no church building in Saudi Arabia and many other muslim countries that this immigrant come from and they come to Swiss and find total freedom they don’t have in their respective countries and now they want to established their culture and belief on top of swiss culture and belief , unbelievable , if the muslim cannot adapt to swiss culture and way of life then they should go back to their respective countries and build more minaret , though they won’t allow Christians to build churches in their country , bravo swiss

Posted by Fred Eddie | Report as abusive

Banning Minarets is just like banning those ugly cell phone towers.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

BRAVO the SWISS!Sarah. you’re ignorance is painful to read.The Jews in Germany did not hi-jack planes and fly them into buildings. Neither do they stone women to death and hang gays for being gay.BTW: The women’s movements in CH and EU are STRONGLY in favor of the ban. They correctly see Islam as a 5th century, male dominant cult. Poor Sarah, a lefty robot.

Posted by Millicent | Report as abusive

So the sentiment seems to be that “Since ALL muslims are terrorists and they don’t let us build churches in their highly theocratic state, we won’t let them build in our supposedly democratic nation.”The racism here is scary. I live and work with Muslims and GUESS WHAT! They’re normal and they don’t fly planes into buildings. A large portion Muslims in Switzerland were born in the country and are official citizens. Oh, to be discriminated against by your motherland. Switzerland may as well join the Islamic Republic.

Posted by LMP | Report as abusive

1) A person who lives in Europe have human rights determined by European Human Rights Organization.. All of the actions taken by any majority would be a case in this Court and the Swiss Parliment will have to pay for this action.2 and 3) In Turkey, only in Istanbul, there are at least 80 churches and Sinagogs which operate over 1500 years freely. and the Non Muslim population in Turkey is less than 1%.4) You have 4 minarets in all country. The last resort of Virgin Mary’s is in Turkey and it is a special place for Christians and Muslims. We have sympaty for all religions (it is in the Quran). 1/3 of all the places in Bible is in Turkey.5) “Peace at home, peace in the world.” M.K. Ataturk.Religion can be practiced any where clean and suitable but the culture has its architecture (respect).You, people, I am sorry to say that… You have some genes coded in your DNA against Turks and Muslims; like the similar genes we all people have against potato for hunger. You remove the visa for a nation who killed hundreds of thousands in Bosnia, but you keep, so called your economic partner, out of your fancy Schengen and EU. Plus, you vote almost as a whole nation against a holy place for that people. It felt very friendly and sympathic, thanks a lot, you made our day in one of the two important religious holiday.

Posted by can | Report as abusive

I find it ironic that some of the female posters here claiming “indignation” would be slaughtered in a Muslim country for any minor offense.If you females want your opinions valued then put on a burkha and stand your post!!Typical feel good idiots!!!

Posted by terry hadley | Report as abusive

Seriously people, why don’t you pick the POPE for the next EU president?

Posted by Levent, Turkey | Report as abusive

First of all, there is no case for Human rights commision or any other world body because the freedom to practice religion is not hindered in any way. Nobody goes and sits on the minaret to pray. In switzerland, they were not used for loud-speakers announcements (TILL YET).So they were only a part of the building which were not used for active participation in any religious activity.Secondly, in a democracy the will and vote of the people are more powerful than any High court or higher court of law of the country. The logic here is that you can fool 5-10% of the country but 57% of the people cannot be fooled to vote in one way. This really is what the people want. WHo is anyone to say that they are wrong.Thirdly, all this hue & cry from the left and media is an effort to prevent other country’s citizens from asking the same kind of referendum from their government. It is also an effort by them to stop Switzerland from other important referendums like womens rights, forced marriages etc..Its logically good whats happened in Switzerland.As a result of this, if something terrorising happened in switzerland now, it will be very hard on the muslims in europe.

Posted by Singularly Handsome | Report as abusive

I’m a woman.I’m black.My swiss heritage dates back to the 13th century.I voted for the ban.Bite me Sarah.

Posted by Lily | Report as abusive

Quote:Senior Turkish military officers had made extensive plans to terrorize non-Muslims in Turkey. In the large Ergenekon1 scandal recently a well-planned terrorist operation was revealed. The operation which is called “Kafes Operasyonu Eylem Plani”, in English meaning “the execution of the cage – operation” was to eliminate the remaining small group of Christians living in Turkey today.The plan was revealed when police arrested Levent Bektas, a major in the Turkish army. The evidence seized reveals more than 27 officers and senior military officers involved in the conspiracy against Christians.In order to identify key persons among the Christians and then kill them, this terrorist network has broken into a Greek church congregation compound and stolen computers. The purpose of this was to access the congregation’s member lists.”When our office was emptied of computers and files, church members were very concerned. Since the murder of the monk Santoro, the journalist Hrant Dink and the brutal murder of three publishing workers in Malatya, Christians are living in constant fear,” said lawyer Kezban Hatemi, representing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul.On November 28, 2007, the Syriac Orthodox monk Daniel Savci in Turabdin was kidnapped in southeastern Turkey. The monk resides in the St. Gabriel monastery, which Turkish authorities are trying to confiscate. A few days later the monk was found beaten. Shortly after, the police arrested some village guards, a state-sanctioned militia subordinate to the Turkish army, for the kidnapping. Many people with insight into the situation interpret the kidnapping as a direct threat to the remaining Assyrians in Turabdin.Christians were attacked across the country. To implement the strategic attacks, the country”s Christian population was mapped out and 939 key persons from different parts of the country were identified as potential targets.The fully detailed operation consists of four phases: preparation, spreading propaganda, shape opinion and execute.The newspaper Taraf, which has been able to access the information, has published several articles about this. On its website it is described in detail how the plan to attack the Christians was to be implemented.Below are some points that constitute the plan”s main lines.* Christians are mapped* Famous and wealthy Christian businessmen kidnapped* Systematic fires and looting of Christian businesses* The Armenian newspaper AGOS be subjected to several explosions* Murder patrols executing attacks against selected individuals* Christian cemeteries subjected to explosions* Churches and institutions belonging to Christians subjected to explosions* Put the blame on imaginary militant organizationsSYMPATHY FOR ALL RELIGIONS WHO ARE YOU FOOLING???__________________

Posted by mona phifer | Report as abusive

Are Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and other religions allowed to build churches,Synagogues, and Temples in the Arab World?Are Christians, Jews, and all others allowed to practice their chosen beliefs openly in the Arab World?The answers to both questions are NO!!!!!!!With rare exceptions, Muslims do not integrate into their country of choice when emigrating. Rather, they seek to set up mini closed societies from which sooner or later extremism arises in one way or another.Every time a country tries to maintain their own traditional and national heritage, these individuals rise up and scream DISCRIMINATION!!!Once the far left gets involved, all must make excuses to to defend their morals and ethics against a people who do not seem to have many – (public whippings, honor killings, amputations including beheading).Why do we always have to end up on our knees begging forgiveness from a culture we have graciously allowed into our western way of life?This situation is very reminiscent of how Europe kept trying to appease Adolf Hitler until he ended up starting a World War.To all Muslims – Let me build a church in the Middle East and practice my faith openly without fear of retaliation. Give me the respect as human being that you are demanding of me.If you are not willing to do even these simple things, then I suggest you take your religion and culture back to wherever it is you came from

Posted by DAG | Report as abusive

to matt.Obviously you know notthing about these people or ,you are a muslim ,have a muslim in your family ,are an immigrant ,or have muslim freinds.this is an answer I gave to lilly,s comments in another newspaper, read on ,,one who is in the dark.To LillyYou know nothing of these people. We are at war with this faith.In 2004 I started worked for a company (and have done so for the past 5 years ) who supplied the Home Office with housing for immigrants and asylum seekers..From picking them up from so called short stay small winnable hotels who supplied them with a bedroom ,dining room and main lounge to taxiing them to the house or flat they had been given by my company who claimed the rent and all the attached charges to that house. Back from the HO.Most of these people had a grasp of English and 95 % thought I was a british muslim and spoke reasonable english when speaking to me.Not so when talking to English immigration officials.Note I say English as I am English and I speak English.They would ask for an enterptreter and would not answer any question put to them in English90% of these houses were owned by muslims who rented them out to my company who rented them out to the HO.The houses would be deep cleaned and i woulld sign them off as ready for the immigrant/asylum or goup of men or women..In the 5 years up to the present day looking at my completion sheets i have signed off 1366 houses for ocupation by these people.Are you still there LILY?Looking at my completion sheets for the tick for each house kept clean up to 2 weeks after habitation I find 6 out of 1366.Most were pig styes within 0ne week, denoted on my sheets by a pigs head ,,,with toilets backing up, washing machine broke,.c/h boilers broke ., back yards and gardens full of rubbish just thrown attracting rats and a large number had cockroaches brought in the belongings of these people and sometimes I found them in my people carrier.I was fortunate to be called into the office for about a month as one of the assistants was on maternity leave with her seventh child .(, no prizes for guessing what faith.)In that month I saw and photographed what my company is charging for each asylum seeker/immigrant each week to the English man in the street. ..£620 a week what do you think of that Lilly.Still with me Lily.The only time I saw many these people clean was on a Friday when they went to the mosque..Lilly,Have you worked with these people.Have you eaten 1000,s of meals with them.Have you slept in the same room as them on and off for five years.Have you discussed their faith many hundreds of time with different male and female muslins.Have you ever followed them into a toilet and found footmarks on the toilet seat where they have stood to do what they have to do..This faith is beneath what you and I know.Still with me lily.Have you seen young Muslim gangs baying around 12 an 13 year old white girls and after using them pass them around like cigarettes.Do you know hundreds of 30 – 40 year old Muslim men living with underage white girls indoctrinating them into the Islamicfaith.Have you driven hundreds of black/afghan/iranian/somalians /iraqisto the unemployment exchanges to sign on and go for interviews regarding finding work then drive them back to their taxi firms where they carry on working in their taxis.Have you been present wham a Muslim as claimed for 4-6 different wives at 4-6 different addresses.They tell me in private their faith enforces the treatment of gentiles and Jews as filth.How does that sit with you Lilly? oh and now MattObviously you don’t get out much and do not know what this religion is capable of but—- it seems the Swiss do?nuce people and they can all be Matts freind,s I certainly don,t want them anywhere near me.

Posted by piers brown | Report as abusive

Piers Brown…I’m not sure you understood me. I said that I voted for the ban i.e. I support the ban on minarets.Also, I grew up with Muslims, went to school with them, my childhood best friend was one…I believe she still is but then again we haven’t spoken for years now. I know all about their culture, their holidays, their koran…all of it. While growing up, I remember how on certain days I couldn’t play with my best friend because she had to stop and go and pray five times a day…and that was just one “chore” that she had to do.I have seen the religion of Islam and endured discussions about being a Christian “infidel” with regular people, some of whom at one time were actual close family friends. I’ve seen the “peaceful” nature of Mohammed’s people and I can say that their peace is white hot…the only time it doesn’t scald you is when it’s on their terms and unless Islam gets its way, there are Jihads and Fatwas to go about demonstrating just how peaceable Islam is…if you don’t believe me just ask Israel.While not all Muslims are terrorists, we can’t ignore the fact that many terrorists happen to be devout Muslims and they are the very ones who are recruited in religious institutions after enduring years of predictive programming and mind control beginning from their Madrassa days.I have no problem if someone wishes to practice a religion, whether free or oppressive…that’s their choice and for all their whining, they’re still free to do that here in Switzerland. I do however have a problem with the Islamo-political nature of minarets and those do not belong here. There are enough Imams controlling their flock from overseas with regards to political matters and we don’t need to start giving them megaphones to better help them wake up potential sleepers.We are a traditionally Christian and to an extent pagan nation and we like it that way. Mosques ok, minarets no!This chipping away at our national sovereignty from within using religion and human rights as an excuse has to stop or we’ll find ourselves in the same dire straits as the US is now in.

Posted by Lily | Report as abusive

Wow, I hadn’t realized how horrifying the posters were until I saw them in the photos above. Chilling, how intolerance and xenophobia can still exist. Here are the appalled reactions in the media:

Posted by johnfranklin | Report as abusive

The decision to ban minarets is unfair, against all human rights and will only create hatred and prejudice against swiss….Islam calls for peace and respect to other religions. I live in a muslim Country, where there are jewish temples, churches and mosques all within close distance, all practicing their religious practices in perfect peace and harmony… that’s Islam…Don’t mix between Islam and terrorism, as Islam condemns terrorism and calls for peace. banning minarets will only open the door for hatred, prejudice… what would be your reaction if muslims decide to ban churches? would be that acceptable? and would Switzerland blame them if they do that? Human rights are human rights, in all countries and for all religions.

Posted by zizi | Report as abusive

Banning Minarets – The real question is what does this proof or mean? It proves that there will always be a ruling party. It proves that there will always be a dominion on earth who loves to rule. It proves that sensualising discomfort & uneasiness will serve the pleasures to the majority. Even though we claim to be democratically correct we are so ridiculed with flaw because we do not practise democracy to its fullest quality only by mere capacity. Despite the world changing it’s very clear that nothing has changed. We prefer to be set & stuck in our old ways. This was the beginning & the rise of Apartheid in South Africa. Yet we love to ostracize and find fault with the ones we love. Be it greed, control or not wanting to be different. ‘As long as it’s not me…it’s ok to eradicate & eliminate a people that behave a little different.’ In fact I’m not here to proof the benefits of Islam. Accept it or leave be…the qualities my grandmother taught me was:”1. To have good etiquette; 2. To be with the ones who have good etiquette; 3. To not hurt others.” Does that make me different…I ask how. We know how to conduct ourselves in business (good etiquette) now how different must one be to be a good practising person. You either ‘innit’ or you out. I know who I am…do you?

Posted by Langa | Report as abusive

if the answer was to go with mosque project and was approved by the current regim or official in the white house then those people hiding behind the walls in the white house should resign, of shame of their wrong doing to this country.

Posted by peterpaul | Report as abusive