(Photo: A referendum campaign poster supporting the minaret ban, in Zurich October 26, 2009/Arnd Wiegmann)
A Swiss Islamic group has said it was launching a popular initiative to reverse a ban on building new minarets in the Alpine state, saying voters would decide differently if the matter came up for referendum again. Last year, 57.5 percent of Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of new minarets, drawing international condemnation. The government had rejected the initiative as violating the constitution.
The text of the proposed initiative will state that the ban on building minarets is to be stricken from the constitution, the Central Islamic Council of Switzerland said on Monday. “Today we can clearly say that accepting the ban has brought neither the voters nor this country any profit,” said Nicolas Blancho, president of the group. “This (new referendum) will also show that we respect democracy and stick to local law.”
The Berne-based Council says it has 1,700 members. In May the Federal Migration Bureau excluded it from an inter-cultural dialogue, saying it first needed to condemn the notion of stoning of women as a punishment.The Swiss-born Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan called him “a marginal figure in the Muslim landscape.” About 350,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, which has a population of 7.7 million. (Photo: Protesters hold banners reading ‘Islam’ and ‘We are Muslims not Hitler’ during a rally against the ban on new minarets in Switzerland in Bern December 12, 2009/Ruben Sprich)
When asked why voters would decide differently should the question of minarets come up again for referendum, Oscar Bergamin, an advisor to the group, answered: “People today are much better able to differentiate. They’re better informed and have time to become still better informed in coming years.”