The Swiss minaret debate goes on

The new year continues as the old one ended: with discussing the Swiss minaret ban and its consequences. A prominent TV talk show hosted Justice minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Hisham Maizar, president of the Federation of Islamic Umbrella Organisations and Thomas Wipf of the Swiss Protestant Communion.

Starting off with a positive statement, Widmer-Schlumpf stated that at least “We finally discuss”. Maizar demanded a public and legal acknowledgment of Islam, while Wipf claimed it was still to early for that and that Muslims should be sensitive for being a minority among a majority – that includes not demanding the construction of minarets yet. He furthermore regretted the fact that there were so many different currents within Islam and that Swiss Muslims did not speak with one voice. This point was supported by Maizar, calling for a greater union within the Swiss Muslim community, which should be supported by the state. Widmer-Schlumpf, however, rejected this request as not being the task of the state.

Round table talks address Swiss Muslims’ problems

The vote to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland has been a wake-up call to both the government and Swiss Muslims, round table talks have shown. Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf met six representatives of Islamic organisations in Bern on Monday, to discuss the situation of Muslims in the light of the anti-minaret vote passed by the Swiss public on November 29.

It was the third such meeting since the anti-minaret initiative was launched, but the first since it was passed. Follow-up meetings are planned where specific proposals will be discussed. Topics discussed included mosque construction, Islamic cemeteries and growing Islamophobia.