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Legal move against minaret ban thrown out

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected two appeals against a ban on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland.

Judges ruled that the plaintiffs – three Muslim organisations and a private citizen – were not victims of an alleged human rights violation.

The Strasbourg-based court on Friday announced that the complaints by the applicants were not admissible.

“The main complaint was that a disputed constitutional provision offended their religious beliefs. However, they did not allege that it had had any practical effect on them,” the statement said.

The applicants could not prove either that they were indirect victims because none of them was planning on building a mosque with a minaret in Switzerland in the near future, it added.

The appeals were lodged in December 2009 following approval of a controversial rightwing initiative in a nationwide vote.

A total of six complaints were filed - three of which are still pending.

A majority of 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters came out in favour of the rightwing initiative in November 2009.

Muslims, mostly from the former Yugoslavia and Turkey, make up about 4.5 per cent of the population in Switzerland.

There are only four mosques with a minaret, besides the many Muslim prayer rooms in Switzerland.

Observers point out that the political drive against new minarets is part of increasing opposition to immigrants. and agencies

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