Not against Muslims, but against Islam

According to a “Vox” follow-up survey conducted in Switzerland following the referendum banning minarets, proponents of the ban wanted to make a symbolic gesture against the spread of Islam in Switzerland, however were not rejecting Muslims in Switzerland in general.

The survey demonstrated a clear division between right and left-wing voters, 80 percent of whom voted respectively for and against the ban. The political middle played the deciding role, especially FDP and CVP voters, who supported the ban against the wishes of their preferred parties. The level of education of voters was an equally important factor, with 76 percent of voters with apprenticeship and vocational degrees supporting the ban, as opposed to 34 percent of higher-educated voters. Around 60 percent of Protestant as well as Catholic voters supported the ban, while in general agnostic and atheist voters rejected it. Contrary to what had been speculated following the referendum, left-wing female voters massively rejected the ban (16% voted yes) even compared to their male counterparts (21 percent), while on the right a noticeable difference was equally present between female voters (87 percent) and male voters (71 percent).

The main reason given by supporters of the ban was the desire to send a symbolic message of opposition to the spread of Islam and the Islamic model of society, while one out of every six who voted in favor also mentioned discrimination against Christian churches in Muslim countries as a decisive factor.

However, the authors of the study argue that the explanation for the vote cannot be simplistically linked to xenophobia or identity-loss due to globalization, pointing out that 40 percent of voters who support a modern and cosmopolitan Switzerland, as well as equal opportunities between Swiss and foreigners, also voted in support of the ban. Furthermore, 64 percent of all voters were fully or fairly persuaded that Swiss and Islamic ways of life were compatible, and only 15 percent of those in favor of the ban cited specific complaints regarding Muslims living in Switzerland. Thus the study concludes that the result of the referendum should not be interpreted as a general rejection of Muslims living in Switzerland.