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Life Talk!

Swiss minaret ban accepted in referendum



United Kingdom

Projections from exit polls suggest that voters in Switzerland have backed a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets.

The result is not yet official, but the BBC's correspondent in Berne says if it is confirmed, it would be a surprise.

The proposal was backed by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which claims minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

Opponents say a ban would discriminate and that the ballot has stirred hatred.

<!- E SF ->

The government opposes a ban.

Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims and has just four minarets. Official referendum results are due at 1700 GMT.

Under the Swiss system, a referendum result is not binding unless a majority of canton voting districts approve it, as well as a majority of voters.

'Huge surprise'

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes, in Bern, says the voting trends are very bad news for the Swiss government which had urged voters to reject a ban on minarets, fearing unrest among the Muslim community and damage to Switzerland's relations with Islamic countries.



But voters worried about rising immigration, and with it the rise of Islam, seem to have ignored the government's advice, our correspondent says.

Partial results from the poll which closed at 1100 GMT indicated that the German-speaking canton of Lucerne accepted the ban, while French-speaking cantons Geneva and Vaud voted against, news agency AFP reported.

"The initiative would appear to be accepted, there is a positive trend. It's a huge surprise," French-language television said, 30 minutes after polls closed at midday.

Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity 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 claim 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 has 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 referendum campaign had helped integration by encouraging debate. He rejected the charge of discrimination.

"Every Muslim is allowed to come together with other Muslims to have the religion together," he told the BBC.

"But a minaret is a political symbol. It is a symbol for introducing, step-by-step, Sharia rights also in Switzerland, parallel to the Swiss law which is a result of Swiss democracy. And this is the problem. It is nothing against Muslims."

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.



Results here: http://tagesschau.sf.tv/hintergrund/abstimmungen/abstimmung_vom_29_november_2009


02:37 PM Nov 29 2009 |

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I think the Swiss government is going about this the wrong way. People deserve the right to worship as they want and there are better ways to prevent the spread of Sharia than this, which will likely just radicalize more Muslims. 

02:54 PM Nov 29 2009 |



United Kingdom

I haven't much of an opinion on it.

The Swiss in my opinion are bunch of cold stupid xenophobes who have all sorts of weird laws. Nevertheless, if this is whata majority of people decide, then so be it. It however reflects badly on the Swiss people, rather than the Swiss government, who were against this.


Jewish ritual slaughter is banned there for instance.

I'm just posting current events.

04:07 PM Nov 29 2009 |




It's very difficult to talk about something that happens in a country you don't live in. Of course you can have an oppinion and read newspapers and statistics and so stuff but you don't see what is really happening on the streets and what the situation is like here…

nice eve :)

05:17 PM Nov 29 2009 |




No…that's wrong. but i understand your oppinion of course.

It's not just a symbol of Islam. it's a symbol of force.. the cross is the symbol of Cristianity and the Swiss Culture is built on cristianity! Minarets affect Swiss because it doesn't fit in the view. It doesn't fit in to a city or a village.. it looks very strange! and it would be very bad to hear the sound out of the minaret 5 times a day. of course they said they wont do that.. but they will they also promised in other countries but didnt stand to their word…

you say it. they will keep praying and no one is against it. they dont need the minarets to pray. so whats the matter if there arent…

 but its very difficult to describe what i mean in english.. just don't understand me wrong please. i understand you but pls also try to understand swiss people that dont want this islamisation in switzerland… 

05:56 PM Nov 29 2009 |




however. on the one hand it is. but i think it's founded and switzerland just doesnt work together with many parts of the islam culture. for example the sharia. it's one of many examples.. but yes. you don't live here and you don't see what's goin on…

08:06 PM Nov 29 2009 |




we also let em build their mosques. there's nothing against it. and also nothing against muslims or the islam. we just want to set bounderies. you can't compare a religion to a country. of course islam is older than switzerland. you can compare the islam to the christianity if you'd like to but i dont see any sense of doing it.

anyway. you're paranoid. and i don't want to fight or something like that.

nice evening

08:21 PM Nov 29 2009 |



My compatriots' vote to ban minarets is fuelled by fear

The Swiss have voted not against towers, but Muslims. Across Europe, we must stand up to the flame-fanning populists

It wasn't meant to go this way. For months we had been told that the efforts to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland were doomed. The last surveys suggested around 34 of the Swiss population would vote for this shocking initiative. Last Friday, in a meeting organised in Lausanne, more than 800 students, professors and citizens were in no doubt that the referendum would see the motion rejected, and instead were focused on how to turn this silly initiative into a more positive future





08:28 PM Nov 29 2009 |




A Minaret disturbs me yes. because i know from other muslims (friends of mine) that it is a symbol of force and i know it's also used as a lightening tower but it's not necessary for their praying.

And a calling for prayer would disturb me, yes!! i was on holidays in islam countries and so i know how this sounds like and i'm sry but this also doesnt fit in and i just dont want to wake up because of a callin for prayer.

 It is and they are very free here. they can pray. they can build mosques and we really tollerate almost everything they do! we're interested in imigrate em and it's great to work together with them. but not all of them are ready to work together with christians. christians and muslims should be like sisters but there are many islam people who would never agree on that. yes swiss is known to be a country of human rights and dignity, and if you want to come here you'll see that it is true. the stop of build minarets isnt against human rights or against muslims it's to set  boundaries. We accept them at all so what's the matter. we just dont want this islamisation because it's not our culture at all. we are christians in switzerland and everything is based on this!

09:33 PM Nov 29 2009 |




and it wasnt the government of switzerland that voted on the initiative, it was the public.

09:34 PM Nov 29 2009 |