Minaret ban criticised

30th June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Amnesty International criticises the SVP’s initiative to ban minaret construction in Switzerland.

Geneva -- A push for a referendum on whether to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland was criticised Sunday by rights group Amnesty International and centre-right politicians.

Daniel Bolomey, the head of Amnesty's Swiss office, said those behind the campaign wanted to "exploit fears" of Muslims and encourage xenophobia for political gain.

"This initiative claims to be a defence against 'rampant Islamification' of Switzerland but it seeks to discredit Muslims and defames them, pure and simple," he said in a statement.

"For those behind this plan, the problem is not linked to minarets.

"In reality, they want to exploit fears that already exist among people and whip up xenophobic feelings for political gain."

The centre-right Free Democratic Party (FDP) also attacked the idea, saying it would only intensify "unfounded" fears against the country's Muslims.

The project came into existence when the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) collected signatures against minaret construction to initiate a public vote on the matter.

They collected over 100,000 signatures, which allows for a referendum, according to the country's constitution.

The Swiss government called for the initiative to be rejected.

No date was set for a vote, but it is not expected to take place before November.
AFP / Expatica

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