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Algeria: ‘Islamophobia’ helps extremists

Algiers — Switzerland’s ban on minarets and the current European debate on national identity will help Islamist radicals, Algeria’s interior minister told public radio Sunday.

The Swiss ban, adopted in a referendum in November, and the debate over European identity, particularly in France, were encouraging extremists and radicals, Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni told Channel Three radio.

These developments were "giving arguments to the extremists", he argued.

"When you give yourself over to commentaries encouraging Islamophobia, you are adding grist to the mill of those who use Islam to justify violent acts, but who are far from representing this religion of tolerance," he said.

To say that Islam was alien to the tradition of democracy and women’s rights was false and only fed those who preached that interpretation of Islam, Zerhouni added.

He explicitly rejected any argument that set up one religion over another.

In an unexpected outcome, 57.5 percent of Swiss voters in a 29 November referendum approved a proposal 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".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday warned French believers against religious "ostentation and provocation" after Switzerland voted to ban Muslims from building minarets.

"Christians, Jews, Muslims, all believers regardless of their faith, must refrain from ostentation and provocation and … practice their religion in humble discretion," wrote Sarkozy in an opinion piece in Le Monde.

AFP / Expatica