Switzerland voters approve ban on construction of minarets

[JURIST] Swiss voters on Sunday approved a proposal [press release] to ban the construction of minarets. The results of the nationwide referendum revealed that more than 57 percent of Swiss voters support the constitutional ban against the construction of the Islamic towers. In response to the vote, the Swiss Federal Council [official website] stated:


The Federal Council and a clear majority of Parliament came out against the initiative. For the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the outcome of the vote reflects fears among the population of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies, which reject our national traditions and which could disregard our legal order. "These concerns have to be taken seriously."

As a result of the Swiss referendum, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party PVV [party website, in Dutch] announced [Volkskrant report, in Dutch] that the group would be asking the Dutch government to hold a similar referendum on banning the construction of minarets in the Netherlands. The backlash of this referendum has echoed through Europe and the Muslim community in Switzerland, with concerns that Muslims in Switzerland will be isolated. The president of the Coordination of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland has indicated [Bloomberg report] that he anticipates legal reactions to this referendum. Scholars in the Muslim world have seen this move as an insult to the Muslim community [AFP report] and have condemned the referendum and called on Muslims to use peaceful means and not be provoked by it.

Last year, the Swiss government announced [JURIST report] that Swiss nationalist parties had gathered enough signatures on their initiative against the construction of minarets [initiative website, in French] to force a national referendum on whether the country's constitution should be amended to ban the structures. The initiative was originally sponsored by the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) [party website].

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.