Immigration presents new challenge

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has spoken of immigration issues at the first annual forum of the Alliance of Civilisations in Madrid.

This content was published on January 15, 2008 - 10:49

Calmy-Rey told the gathering that the latest waves of immigrants to enter Switzerland have presented the multicultural nation with a new challenge.

She said some segments of Swiss society felt threatened by foreigners, including Muslims who account for nearly five per cent of Switzerland's population.

The two-day meeting brings together politicians, representatives of civil society and the media from more than 70 countries.

On the conference sidelines, the foreign minister spoke to the secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, about a campaign in Switzerland to ban minarets.

Calmy-Rey told Ihsanoglu that she had faith in the reasoning powers of the Swiss electorate, who may be called to vote on the issue. The Swiss government told the organisation at the beginning of this month that public opposition to a minaret ban was growing.

Launched by Spain and Turkey in 2005, the UN-led Alliance of Civilisations aims to tackle the challenges that religious and cultural diversity pose for the international community.

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