U.N. rights boss denounces Swiss ban on minarets
Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement on Tuesday that prohibiting an architectural structure linked to Islam or any religion was “clearly discriminatory.” She said the ban was “discriminatory, deeply divisive and a thoroughly unfortunate step for Switzerland to take, and risks putting the country on a collision course with its international human rights obligations.”
(Photo: Protesters in Zurich against minaret ban, 29 Nov 2009/Arnd Wiegmann)
Pillay’s spokesman, Rupert Colville, was asked at a news briefing whether this meant that Switzerland was violating the pact. “It’s not quite the same as saying it’s a violation, but it is a very short step short of saying that,” he said. Read the whole story here.
In Strasbourg, the Council of Europe, a European human rights watchdog, said the ban raised concern over “whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, should be subject to popular votes.”
Thorbjoern Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, said in a statement that the ban was linked to issues such as freedom of expression and of religion, as well as the prohibition of discrimination guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
“Therefore, it would be up to the European Court of Human Rights to decide, should an application be submitted to the Court, whether the prohibition of building new minarets is compatible with the Convention,” he added.
Here’s a Reuters video on reactions to the vote: