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Muslim exhibition draws crowds in Zurich

The Muslim exhibition opened with three women singing an Islamic song of peace Keystone Archive

The attacks on New York and Washington have given an added dimension to a Zurich exhibition about the life of the city's Islamic community.

Its organisers say people are flocking to see the exhibition in far greater numbers than expected.

Two years ago Zurich’s culture department and office for intercultural relations staged an exhibition about the city’s Jewish population. Afterwards they decided to do the same for the 40,000 Muslim inhabitants living in and around Zurich. The Muslim community is the larger of the two.

Exhibition organiser Nicolas Bärlocher told swissinfo that it turned out to have a tragic topicality: “When we began preparing the exhibition about a year ago nobody could have known that 10 days before its opening these terrible events would happen.

“At first the shock was so great that there were suggestions that it should be cancelled. But we said no, on the contrary this is the right moment to treat the subject and not to give the impression that we want to isolate the Muslim community or to suggest in any way that they sympathised with the terrorists.”

Bärlocher added that all generations are represented among the visitors, who are given information about the pillars of the Islamic faith and culture, and the everyday life of Zurich’s Muslim community in surroundings very different from their own.

Its members are from many regions, including Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and North Africa.

“They are a very diverse community and not a compact group,” said Bärlocher. “It is particularly important for us in the administration to provide a means of better understanding each other and that is the main reason for the exhibition.”

by Richard Dawson

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR