Switzerland: Swiss reject plans for Major Islamic Center in Capital

Islamic groups said they were disappointed Saturday that plans to build one of the biggest Muslim cultural centers in Europe were rejected by Swiss planners in Bern. The center, to include a mosque, a museum, offices and a four-star hotel, had been proposed by a Bern-based Islamic coordination group, Umma, for the site of a former abattoir at a cost of up to 80 million Swiss francs (65 million dollars). The authorities said they had earmarked the site for a uses other than religious and saw no other suitable location for the project in Bern, according to the Swiss wire service ATS. Umma said in a statement they noted the decision with “regret.” The move comes in the midst of a row over minarets in Switzerland where 350,000 Muslims have settled. A campaign, spearheaded by right-wing politicians, has been launched to try to ban further construction of the towers at mosques claiming they are a political rather than religious symbol and breach Swiss laws. Only two mosques in Zurich and Geneva have a minaret.