Damage limitation plans made for minaret vote
The government is acting to avert possible damage to Swiss interests caused by a popular vote on banning the construction of minarets.
The plans were revealed in answer to a question from a parliamentarian, who is strongly opposed to any such ban.
Swiss missions in "sensitive" countries have been given the "necessary finance" to react if there should be an outbreak of anti-Swiss feeling, according to the French-language newspaper Le Temps. The money is destined primarily for an information campaign, explaining the position of the Swiss government.
The government has come out clearly against the anti-minaret initiative. It says it is irreconcilable with several provisions of human rights agreements and would endanger religious peace.
However, the government believes that it would be premature, and even counter-productive, to launch a full-scale information campaign. Instead, it is continuing to speak with interest groups and opinion leaders abroad.
It has played down the risk to Swiss interests arising from the debate and vote on the issue.
Supporters of the initiative say the construction of minarets is a symbol of a religious and political claim to power, and thus challenges the Swiss constitution.
No date has been set for the Swiss people to vote on the issue, but it could be as early as November.
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