Swiss minaret ban discriminates against Muslims, says UN expert Statement of UN Special Rapporteur, Asma Jahangir

An independent United Nations expert on religious freedom today voiced regret at the Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets, stating that such a prohibition clearly discriminates against Muslims.

“I have deep concerns at the negative consequences that the outcome of the vote will have on the freedom of religion or belief of members of the Muslim community in Switzerland,” Asma Jahangir, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, stated in a news release.

“Indeed, a ban on minarets amounts to an undue restriction of the freedom to manifest one’s religion and constitutes a clear discrimination against members of the Muslim community in Switzerland,” she added, also noting that the UN Human Rights Committee stated a month ago that such a ban is contrary to the country’s obligations under international human rights law.

“This vote reminds us that no societies are immune to religious intolerance,” stressed Ms. Jahangir, adding that “it is therefore more than ever necessary to continue raising awareness and educating people about religious diversity, enabling all societies to adopt an enlightened and progressive attitude towards the beliefs of other communities.”