Turkey debates about the Swiss minaret ban and own religious minorities

In Turkey, the Swiss referendum banning the building of new minarets is perceived as just another example of Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “This decision is primitive, outdated, and manifestation of a Western understanding.”

Warning that this decision rings alarm bells, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu added “There is an increase in Islamophobia. We will live together everywhere in the globalized world, and we need to develop a new spirit of tolerance.”

The article, however, also highlights the extent to which “a new spirit of tolerance” is needed in Turkey as well. While most people criticized the Swiss vote strongly, some also drew attention to Turkey’s own situation regarding tolerance to religious minorities.

The rights of the non-Muslim minorities in Turkey are regulated to a large extent by the Treaty of Lausanne, which gives reciprocal rights to the Muslim Turkish minority that lives in Greece and Christian Minorities in Turkey, but the article argues that neither the situation in Greece nor the one in Turkey is better than the situation in Switzerland.