Swiss businessman builds minaret in protest

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Guillaume Morand extended a chimney above his building in protest of Switzerland’s decision to ban minarets.

Bussigny -- A Swiss businessman appalled by his fellow countrymen's decision to ban minarets has extended a chimney above his company building into a minaret in protest.

"It was scandalous that the Swiss voted for the ban. Now we have the support of all the far-right parties across Europe. This is shameful," Guillaume Morand, who owns a chain of shoe stores, told AFP.

The businessman, who is not a Muslim, explained that he constructed the mock minaret at his building near western Switzerland's city of Lausanne in protest, and at the same time, to "send a message of peace."

More than 57 percent of voters upset opinion polls and defied their government by approving the right-wing motion to ban minarets -- the towers on mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The outcome of the referendum brought by members of the hard-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) and other right-wing groups was also hailed by anti-immigrant party leaders elsewhere in Europe.

Morand blamed other political parties in Switzerland for not having campaigned against the far-right motion ahead of the referendum.

"They were all against it but they did not explain the issue clearly to the country," he said, pointing out that only the SVP's controversial poster campaign was visible.

The SVP had sought support for the ban through a poster campaign depicting a burqa-clad woman against a background of a Swiss flag upon which several minarets resembling missiles are erected.

Morand said he viewed the ban more "scandalous" given that Switzerland actively encourages Arabs to "visit the country and to spend their money here."

The minaret, which has been in place since Tuesday, has "generated a lot of interest," he said, adding that he will wait and see before deciding if further action was needed to push his point.

AFP / Expatica

3 Comments To This Article

  • Topsy Turvy posted:

    on 12th December 2009, 22:13:15 - Reply

    I fear Mr Guillaume Morand is not in touch with ground realities. This is not an issue about right, left or centre. It is about accepting or rejecting double standards. We all want peace. But peace does come on a plate. And we learn from history and the experiences of other people. I wonder if Mr Guillaume ever thought of erecting a statue of Buddha when the Taliban blasted one of the tallest Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in March 2001. By the way, Switzerland doesn't only encourage Arabs to "visit and spend their money" but rather anyone with money is welcome. Mr Guillaume also ignores the fact that there are loads of money, black or otherwise, from other countries stacked up in Switzerland for safe keeping. I bet Mr Guillaume has an eye more on the money than the values I and I presume the 57 % who voted for the ban cherish. No hard feelings.
  • George posted:

    on 12th December 2009, 16:27:01 - Reply

    Pomp It Up:
  • Sonya posted:

    on 11th December 2009, 12:06:59 - Reply

    Anybody know which shoe stores he owns?