Protesters condemn Swiss minaret ban
Some 500 protesters gathered outside parliament in Bern on Saturday to condemn a Swiss ban on building new minarets.Bern -- Some 500 protesters gathered outside parliament in Bern on Saturday to condemn a Swiss ban on the building of new minarets, approved in a referendum in November.
Some were seen with cardboard placards reading "Islam" and "We are Muslims, not Hitler," as organisers from the Swiss central Islamic council, sought to send a message that Islam is a peaceful religion that teaches its followers to respect other faiths.
Nicolas Blancho, a Swiss Muslim co-organiser of the demonstration, told the crowd that Muslims are not seeking to impose sharia law in Switzerland, the domestic ATS news agency reported.
In an unexpected outcome, 57.5 percent of Swiss voters in a 29 November referendum approved a proposal put forward by the far right to ban the construction of minarets.
The move drew widespread criticism, with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay calling the ban "deeply discriminatory, deeply divisive and a thoroughly unfortunate step for Switzerland to take."
The Swiss government sought to assure the country's 400,000 Muslims, who are mainly of Balkan and Turkish origin, that the outcome was "not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture."
Switzerland has around 200 mosques, with just four minarets between them.
AFP / Expatica