Muezzin will not sound in Switzerland
President Hans-Rudolf Merz on Tuesday said the call to prayer would not sound in Switzerland.Geneva -- Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz on Tuesday told voters that the muezzin, or person who calls to prayer, would not sound in Switzerland, as he campaigned against a referendum motion seeking to ban the building of minarets.
"Muslims should be able to practice their religion and have access to minarets in Switzerland too. But the call of the muezzin will not sound here," said Merz in a video broadcast to the nation.
The Swiss are due to vote on 29 November on the motion launched by right-wing groups to ban the construction of minarets, which is backed by the country's biggest political party, the hard-right Swiss People's Party (SVP).
The Swiss government and all other major political parties oppose the move to outlaw minarets.
On Tuesday, Merz reiterated the government's stance, calling on the population to "say no to the People's initiative against the construction of minarets."
"Each religion has its particular architecture, whether it be churches, synagogues or minarets," he added.
"There I see the expression of the diversity of our society. Switzerland guarantees religious freedom. We live in a multicultural and open society. All believers, Muslims too, should be able to practice their faith," he added.
The government has argued that existing planning laws are sufficient to ensure local building rules are respected, while legislation against excessive noise can allow calls to prayer to be stopped.
An opinion poll published in early October by the daily Tages-Anzeiger indicated that more than 51 percent of voters polled would reject a ban, while nearly 35 percent would support it.
According to latest data from Bern, there are 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland among the population of some 7.5 million.
AFP / Expatica