Swiss minaret ban 'Islamophobia'
Pakistani religious groups on Monday condemned a referendum in
Switzerland that saw voters approve a ban on the construction of mosque
minarets, calling it "extreme Islamophobia."
Switzerland on Sunday voted in favour of a ban on new mosque minarets
the towers or turrets attached to mosques from which Muslims are
traditionally called to prayer prompting dismay and anger in the Muslim
"This development reflects extreme Islamophobia among people in the
West," said Khurshid Ahmad, vice president of Jamaat-e-Islami, a
hardline Islamic political party that is represented in Pakistan's
"This also represents very serious discrimination against Muslims."
Pakistan is the world's second most populous Muslim nation.
The far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP) had forced a referendum
after collecting a mandatory 100,000 signatures from eligible voters.
Conservative Swiss politicians argued that the minarets were not
architectural features with religious characteristics, but symbolised a
"political-religious claim to power, which challenges fundamental
Ahmad described the Swiss decision as a serious violation of human
rights and international law, telling AFP: "This is an effort to provoke
Muslims and prompt a clash between Islam and the West."
Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for Islamic charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa accused
of being a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba radical insurgent group
also decried the referendum as a blow for inter-faith harmony.
"This new decision violates the principles of mutual understanding
and religious tolerance," Mujahid said.
"The West never takes respite in claiming to be champions of
religious tolerance and inter-faith harmony, but this latest decision
shows their bias against Muslims," he added.
Far-right politicians across Europe celebrated the results, while the
Swiss government sought to assure the Muslim minority that a ban on
minarets was "not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or
Having won a majority on turnout of 53 percent, the initiative will
now be inscribed in the country's constitution.