U.N. rights boss denounces Swiss ban on minarets

December 1, 2009

minaret-protestThe top U.N. rights official in Geneva has said  Switzerland’s ban on building minarets was “deeply divisive” and at odds with its international legal obligations.

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:

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How many Catholic churches can you build in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Syria ?? How many bibles can I give away in these countries? If the swiss VOTE to ban these structures, then so be it.

Posted by Michael Parry | Report as abusive

I think I would pay more attention to Islamic leaders that are outraged about freedom of expression in Switzerland once they express the same outrage about how women and Christians and other non-muslims are treated in Muslim countries – can’t have it both ways, boys–

Posted by Brad | Report as abusive

I think people are forgetting that churches, synagogues, temples have minarets as well. Is the law same for all of them? Are they going to be brought down as a result of this ban?

Posted by Hunaid | Report as abusive

The United Nations – a useless organization hijacked by theocrats and dictators eager to suppress the sovereignty and freedom of the west – can be told to go home. There are better things it can do, like pretending to stop genocide and famine.The world is standing firmly behind Switzerland as we are all enthralled with its shining democracy. Finally, a small country has the courage to stand up to a religion-political system that exploits the tolerance and liberalism of free nations in order to destroy that tolerance and liberalism from within. The Swiss have said enough is enough. We agree. If only the people of America, the rest of Europe, India and Russia had a say, we would all reach the same conclusion. A referendum in bigger countries, however, is unthinkable because our leaders are cowards who are afraid of the power of The People. Western leaders in their supreme arrogance think they have the license to decide what is good for us. By holding true to its democratic principles, little Switzerland puts all of the bigger “democracies” to shame.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

not anybody ask himself why we can’t build church at MAKA,and EL-MADINA or how the christian in EGYPT have difficult not to build but only fix the old church, people get up from sleepy by dreaming freedom ,those people doesn’t know what is froodom means only for them to be moslim

Posted by victor | Report as abusive

people with money want the rest of the world to kiss Muslim butt, because the Arab’s world has most of the worlds oil ? but although I’m not a scholar even I can see what the Muslim religion really is. Its a religion based on anger and revenge, that aside, how many Churches are there in the Arab world, can you celebrate Christmas ? what happens if a Muslim person converts ?good for the Swiss again they display some backbone, now let that old man out of prison, so he can direct some more crap movies !

Posted by Herbert | Report as abusive

this is for the moderators , I just read the house rules, and have realized something , all of the UK based websites have this same sort of fascist dictates, but then the UK has how many CCTV’s ? you cannot dictate how people feel !!!

Posted by Herbert | Report as abusive

It really has nothing to do with diversity. Suicide bombings are not diversity. Hiding behind veils is not diversity. Putting women into human class lower than animals is not diversity. Their (Islam) tenets are very clear. Convert or face death. Islamists started this hatred. They won’t take responsibility for their extremists and they want the world to view them as peaceful. Everything they have done is anything but peaceful. Who gives a rats arse about showing an image of Muhammad. It is just a freaking picture and they want to kill because someone shows an image of their God. They asked for this. As far as I am concerned the rest of the world will finish it. They simply refuse to join the 21st century. And to think they see secularists as ignorant.

Posted by Chancy | Report as abusive

The UN is a farce. They do not serve the needs of the people of the west. It is a sounding voice for the islamic world, a voice that would very much like to colonize Europe and the rest of the west.Switzerland is a proud country and I support them all the way.

Posted by garth sommer | Report as abusive

Two wrongs dont make it right! What makes West better than the tyrant states like Egypt, Iran and so many more are supported by the West. But they (western leaders) do not want to exert pressure on people like Mubarek, King of Jordan or the Saudis . Blame yourselves if churches can not be built in some of these Muslim countries. Let me also tell you there are plenty of Christians and Jews living in Muslim countries in peace and harmony even the Muslims ruled from Spain to Malaysia.Chancy… You are very ignorant of the facts.”Their (Islam) tenets are very clear. Convert or face death” – WRONG -If this was true than why do we still have people belonging to other religions besidde Islam in so many muslims countries. Unless you dont knoe maybe need to visit few and check it out.”Islamists started this hatred”By sending crusades to Muslim lands, and spill blood shed in Jeruslam. What you did then you are doing now if not at least supporting it. Whem Muslims ruled thses holy lands all were allowed to worship NOT treated like sewage rats as the palestnians do in Jeruslam. Talk about humanity and 21 century.”they want to kill because someone shows an image of their God.”He is NOT God, he is the Last propeht tahts all just like Jesus was n Moses so on. Seriously you are full of haterd.”Putting women into human class lower than animals is not diversity” My dear it was the first religion to give rights to women. How you say your nun is so pure or very practising to us all Muslims are like that.This is clear doubale standars, surley either one is allowed to practice religion or no religion of their choosing. So why not allow minerates but allow churches, synagadues so on anyway carry on the more you opress or restrict the peaceful teacjhing the more it will grow.Remeber the ROyal Mail reporter – Yvonne Rigley – Captured in Afghnistan an dnow converted she was NOT forced. Infact she conveted after she got back to the UK.All I am saying is the bad guys are evrywhere, in every religion, country. I fyou want to learn about the religion understands it first at least.

Posted by Majid | Report as abusive

The way Western thugs are occupying Muslim countries, Every Muslim country must ban all the Churches in response for that.

Posted by Truthywood | Report as abusive

The actual issues is that which is raised by the Europehuman rights watchdog, said the ban raised concern over “whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, We would either the cast may be considered whether the human right violation has been protect in every where or not.

Posted by compound bows | Report as abusive

Well I don’t know why Swiss banned minarets? Will they ban mosques as well? What is the message here? Isn’t this action against diversity and it is only acting upon stereotypes of muslms in the west? There is a big difference between Islam as a religion and some people who call themselves as muslims; Islam is against violence in all its means. it respects all other religions and call for peace. Those extremist who call themselves as mouslims while they have nothing to do with it are simply a punch of gangs with crazy ideas of getting what they want ( whatever it is ) by killing innocent people and no religion in the world can approve that! Yes we do have many problems in the Islamic world but it is not because of islam it is because of misunderstand it and ignorance.

Posted by nermin | Report as abusive

Ban on Hijabs in Turkey, ban on minarets in Switzerland. I say what is the difference? One in a Muslim nation, the other Christian. We Muslims are harming our own selves.To my knowledge, there are 2 extremes – Rich Muslims that divulge in too many luxuries, extremists (terrorists and the like). Both engage in Non-Islamic activities, and make things HELL for us common Muslims.Yes, I agree with one of the replies above, that if so many Muslim countries restrict the practise of other religions, why should Switzerland do any different? Why are we Muslims complaining?There are more important issues to focus on – poverty, abuse, economical crisis. But it seems to me that media, Muslims, as well as others have their priorities set on such smaller issues.I haven’t read anything on global warming, or AIDS, or poverty issues in the news lately. People! Publish these news. Give us statistics, horrific stories, so that common people like me will strive (even a little) to make the world better.If you ban Mosques, can we not pray at homes? This is not so much a violation of Human Rights as was the Ban on Hijabs in Turkey. Fellow Muslims, let’s change ourselves first before we look unto others.

Posted by molten_rock01 | Report as abusive

A small correction above – the ban in Turkey was on wearing head scarves in schools/universities.

Posted by molten_rock01 | Report as abusive

Herbert you don’t know any thing about Islam, you said its a religion of revenge and so on…. what would say about christians Germans Killed All the Jews and also russian… then would say all christans are racist or relegion is based on hatered and revenge.(my answer is no) you can not blame the action of few so called muslims or even christans on whole muslim or christan popualtion…

Posted by Xvid777 | Report as abusive

I think commentators need to learn about the basic teachings of Islam. Go through the history and you will learn that in Muslim societies all minorities including Christians, Jews and others enjoyed all fundamental rights even they were given preference over Muslim majority. One should also know why some elements are adopting extremist behaviour?. It would be Clichés to say that extremism in Muslim world was fueled by west but it is fact that after the invasion of western powers including USA in muslim world gave the reason to restore to violence. I request all friends of the other faiths that they must at least study about Islam and its principal values. On what ethical grounds does Switzerland ban minerates construction when this small country is hiding billion of dollars plundered by rulers of muslim and non-muslims world in its banks.

Posted by Khurshid | Report as abusive

Search google images with this text “Church Masque” , There is not a single Christian majority country in world where both Masque and Churches are side by side, You will find hundreds of photos from Muslim majority countries where Churches and Masques are side by side. So that means when Christian are majority they don’t allow masque near their Churches. but tolerant Muslims do.

White Christianity is totalitarian ideology, They don’t tolerate any body who does not look like them , talk like them or walk like them. Red Indians were first victims of this intolerant cult, than blacks, than people in their Colonies, than Jews (WW2), Now Muslims are new target of this cult.

Posted by truthywood | Report as abusive