Head of OSCE human rights office expresses concern about outcome of Swiss minaret ban referendum

The director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, expressed concern today at the outcome of the referendum held in Switzerland on Sunday on the ban of the construction of minarets.

“A blanket prohibition of minarets is not consistent with OSCE commitments on freedom of religion or belief and the principle of non-discrimination based on religion,” Lenarcic said in Athens, where he will participate in the OSCE Ministerial Council, to be held tomorrow and Wednesday. The referendum, launched by the Swiss People’s Party and the Federal Democratic Union, was backed by 57.5 percent of voters and a majority of cantons.