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Minaret ban was a "symbolic gesture"

Voters who supported a people’s initiative to ban minarets last November wanted to make a symbolic gesture against the spread of Islam in Switzerland.

This content was published on January 25, 2010 - 11:01

A survey of voters carried out by Swiss universities found, however, that the majority in favour of a ban was not equivalent to overall rejection of Muslims in Switzerland.

On November 29, 57.5% of votes cast were in favour of the people's initiative, much to general surprise. Switzerland is the first European country to forbid the construction of minarets.

According to the Vox Analysis survey of more than 1,000 voters, released on Monday, the initiative was marked by a strong political Left-Right divide - the Left rejected the ban by more than 80 per cent, and the Right was in favour by almost as much. The political midway held the balance, voting two to one for the ban.

The most common reason for voting in favour of the initiative was to make a gesture against the spread of Islam and its model for society. Around one in six voters said their decision was a reaction against the discrimination of Christian churches in countries where Islam is strong.

Only 15 per cent were critical of Muslims living in Switzerland, leading the study’s authors to conclude that the vote could not be seen as a general rejection of Muslims in the country. Almost two thirds of those polled said that Swiss and Islamic ways of life were compatible.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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