Swiss Muslims launch push against minaret ban
Switzerland's Islamic Central Council said Monday that it would launch a push for the country to reverse its ban on minarets which was approved in a referendum a year ago.
Under the country's unique direct democracy system, the far-right last year forced a referendum on banning the construction of new minarets after collecting a mandatory 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months.
The Islamic council now wants to use the same method to overturn that decision.
"If the minaret ban is to be lifted, it shall be done in the same way as it was introduced a year ago - that is, to submit a people's initiative with the aim of removing the article from the Federal Constitution," said the council.
"The constitutional conditions of Switzerland do not allow any other possibility than that the minaret question shall be submitted to the people for vote a second time," it added in a statement.
The council said it planned to submit a draft of its initiative to authorities for approval by January.
Muslims account for just five percent of Switzerland's population of 7.5 million people, and form the third largest religion group after the dominant Roman Catholic and Protestant communities, although just 50,000 are estimated to worship openly.
© 2010 AFP