Campagne in Switzerland Against the Construction of Mosques

Policymakers of the Swiss Right recently began a campaign for a referendum to prohibit the construction of minarets on mosques. Des responsables politiques de la droite suisse ont r’cemment lanc’ une campagne pour la tenue d’un r’f’rendum visant ‘ interdire la construction de minarets sur les mosqu’es. According to representatives of the Union d’mocratique du centre (UDC) and of the Union d’mocratique f’d’rale (UDF), minarets “are an Islamic construction that connote imperialism” that represent a “beacon of jihad.” “Such an initiative puts the securite of the Swiss in danger,” according to the President of the Conf’d’ration and Minister of Immigration Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey. Switzerland has approximately 310,000 Muslims, primarily from the Balkans, among a population of 7.5 million people.

Switzerland: Ministers attack minarets campaign

Three members of Switzerland’s seven-strong cabinet have publicly condemned a campaign by rightwingers to ban the construction of minarets On Monday Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency, told journalists in Geneva that such an initiative “could put Swiss interests and Swiss citizens in danger”. Her comments came a day after Defence Minister Samuel Schmid said the campaign was going down the “wrong road”. Then on Wednesday it was the turn of Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin to come out against the proposal, saying that a confrontation between people of different faiths had to be avoided. Their public statements against a public initiative at such an early stage is an unusual move. Their caution is attributed to anticipation of backlash in light of the Denmark cartoon controversy and the popularity of the minaret issue in the upcoming election. Though Schmid belongs to the same rightwing Swiss People’s Party as some who back the initiative, it’s believed that he feels the initiative has gone too far.

The Campagne Against Minarets “Puts the Security of the Swiss in Danger”

The campaign recently launched by representatives of the Swiss right to prohibit the construction of minarets on mosques “puts the security of the Swiss in danger” according to the President and Swiss Minister of Immigrant Affairs, Micheline Calmy-Rey. Politicians of the Union d_mocratique du centre (UDC, right populist) and Union d_mocratique f_d_rale (UDF, Christian right) have demanded since the beginning of May the organization of a referendum to prohibit the construction of minarets in Switzerland. {(continued in French)} “Une telle initiative met la s_curit_ des int_r_ts suisses, des Suissesses et des Suisses en danger”, a jug_ Mme Calmy-Rey (Parti socialiste) lors d’une rencontre avec la presse _trang_re. “La libert_ de pratiquer une religion est garantie en Suisse”, a comment_ la pr_sidente de la Conf_d_ration en s’_levant contre toute “loi d’exception” et en s’interrogeant sur la compatibilit_ d’une telle mesure d’interdiction avec la constitution suisse. Les promoteurs d’un r_f_rendum contre les minarets estiment que ces _difices sont le symbole d’une revendication du pouvoir politico-religieux par l’islam. Il s’agit de “stopper les tentatives des milieux islamistes d’imposer en Suisse un syst_me l_gal fond_ sur la charia”, selon un communiqu_ du groupe. Selon Ulrich Schl_er, parlementaire de l’UDC, le 1er parti politique suisse, les minarets sont des “constructions islamiques ayant une connotation imp_rialiste”. Pour un autre d_put_ du parti populiste, Oskar Freysinger, ils repr_sentent des “phares du djihad” (guerre sainte). Le projet d’organiser un r_f_rendum doit recueillir 100.000 signatures d’ici le 1er novembre 2008 pour _tre soumis _ un examen de constitutionnalit_ puis au vote. Il y a environ 311.000 musulmans en Suisse sur 7,5 millions d’habitants. La plupart d’entre eux sont originaires des Balkans.