Swiss minaret ban emboldens extremists in Europe

The minaret ban in Switzerland has had a continentwide response. Even as European human-rights courts began attempts to block the Swiss amendment, extremist politicians across Europe were examining their countries’ laws to see if a similar referendum could be accomplished.

Far-right leaders have emerged from the woodwork in places like the Netherlands to push for similar bans. Yet, of Switzerland’s 400,000 Muslims, representing less than 5 percent of the population, the largest group are of European background, with ancestors from the historically Muslim Balkan countries of southeast Europe – in other words, they are as culturally and historically European as any Christian Swiss citizen.

The extreme right in Belgium have also reacted strongly.