Swiss Minaret Ban Reversal Vote in Pipeline

Reuters, December 6, 2009

Swiss liberals are considering a new referendum to overturn the ban on building new minarets in the country, Sunday papers reported, as Libya’s Muamar Gaddafi warned the ban played into the hands of terrorists.

Club Helvetique, a group of over 20 Swiss intellectuals, will draw up an action plan to overturn the ban, which has drawn widespread criticism abroad and prompted hundreds of people to take to the streets this weekend in Zurich, Basel and Berne.

“A new initiative is the most democratic way of achieving this,” constitutional lawyer Joerg Mueller told Sonntag.

Voters adopted the ban in a referendum a week ago, defying the government and parliament which had warned the right-wing initiative violated the Swiss constitution, freedom of religion and a cherished tradition of tolerance.

Two complaints questioning the legality of ban had already been handed to Switzerland’s Federal Court, Sonntag said.

Libya leader Gaddafi said the ban had done a great favor to al Qaeda militants, who would use it to attract recruits in a holy war against Europe, news agency SDA reported.

“The activists are now saying: ‘we told you that they are our enemies . . . join al Qaeda and declare jihad on Europe ‘.”

Politicians from the SVP, Switzerland’s biggest party, and the conservative Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures to force the referendum on the initiative which opposed the “Islamisation of Switzerland.”

Its campaign poster showed the Swiss flag covered in missile-like minarets and the portrait of a woman covered with a black chador and veil associated with strict Islam.

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[Editor’s Note: Other articles on the Swiss ban on minarets are listed here.]

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