Swiss Vote Bans Muslim Minarets

Sunday, 29 Nov 2009 10:32 AM

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GENEVA – Over 57 percent of Swiss voters on Sunday approved a blanket ban on the construction of Muslim minarets, according to official results posted by Swiss news agency ATS.

A final tally of 26 cantons indicates that 57.5 percent of the population have voted in favour of the ban on minarets -- the turrets or towers attached on mosques from where Muslims are called to prayer.

Only four cantons rejected the proposal brought by Switzerland's biggest party -- the Swiss People's Party (SVP), which claims that minarets symbolise a "political-religious claim to power."

The SVP had forced a referendum under Swiss regulations on the issue after collecting 100,000 signatures within 18 months from eligible voters.

The Swiss government was firmly against the call, arguing that accepting a ban would bring about "incomprehension overseas and harm Switzerland's image."

Switzerland has an uneasy relationship with its Muslim population of some 400,000 in a country of 7.5 million people. Islam is the second largest religion here after Christianity.

Copyright 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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