Swiss bishops oppose minaret construction ban

11th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland's Roman Catholic bishops urged voters to reject a call to ban the building of minarets in the country.

Geneva – Switzerland's Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday urged voters to reject a call to ban the building of minarets in the country in a referendum next month.

In a statement, the Swiss Bishops' Conference said that fear was behind the rightwing drive for a ban on the building of minarets, the tall towers on mosques.

"Fear serves as a poor counsellor in this matter," the statement said.

"A general ban on minaret construction would hurt needed efforts to create a two-way welcoming attitude of dialogue and respect."

The rightwing Swiss People's Party (SVP) has pushed for the poll, collecting more than the 100,000 signatures needed under the constitution to hold a referendum.

The Swiss government has been embarrassed by the initiative and called for the ban to be rejected.

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

Islam is the second largest religion in Switzerland after Christianity with 310,000 followers out of a population of 7.5 million. Four minarets have been built and the construction of a fifth is planned.

AFP / Expatica

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