Director Fatih Akin boycotts Swiss over minarets

5th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

The outcome of Switzerland’s vote Sunday has inflamed tempers throughout the Muslim world and elsewhere.

Berlin -- Prominent Turkish-German director Fatih Akin said Thursday he would not bring his new film to Switzerland in protest against a referendum vote that banned the construction of minarets in the country.

"This referendum conflicts with my understanding of humanism, tolerance and the belief that harmonious co-existence of peoples of differing backgrounds, races and religions must be possible," Akin said in an open letter.

"As a child of Muslim parents who do not see minarets as symbols of political Islam but rather simply the complete architecture of their houses of worship, I feel personally affected by the referendum. That is why I refuse to travel to Switzerland."

Akin was to have presented on December 16 in Zurich his new comedy Soul Kitchen, which won the Special Jury Prize in September at the Venice Film Festival. The film is a light-hearted look at the multicultural mix in Akin's hometown Hamburg.

Akin is one of German-speaking world's hottest filmmakers, winning a screenwriting award for his drama The Edge of Heaven in 2007 at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Bear top prize in Berlin in 2004 for Head-On.

The Swiss vote Sunday saw more than 57 percent back a proposition by a right-wing party for a constitutional ban on the construction of new minarets, overriding opposition from the government and most Swiss political parties.

The outcome inflamed tempers throughout the Muslim world, with a Turkish minister saying in an interview published Wednesday that he expected Muslims to withdraw their money from Swiss banks in response.


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