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Minaret debate flares up

A year after Swiss voters approved a ban on the building of minarets, both pro and contra groups are launching new campaigns to put the issue back on the political agenda.

An anti-minaret movement led by Ulrich Schlüer of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party presented a manifesto on Monday against the Islamisation of Switzerland.

The document underlines Switzerland’s Christian foundations and aims to prevent the creation of a parallel society inspired by Islamic sharia law.

Schlüer said the group had waited a year in vain for the government to implement the minaret ban. A sign of the lack of progress was the green light canton Bern gave in September to the building of a minaret in the town of Langenthal, the politician said.

The Bern authorities argued at the time that planning permission was originally granted months before the controversial vote.

Also on Monday, an Islamic group based in Bern said it was launching an initiative to lift the minaret ban.

The Islamic Central Council – which represents 13 Islamic organisations with 1,700 members – said the aim of the initiative was to restore “the constitutional right of equality of all citizens regardless of their religious faith”.

The council said it would submit a text to the federal chancellery in January for initial examination. If the group decides to go ahead, it will have to collect 100,000 signatures within 18 months in order to force a nationwide vote.

More than 300,000 Muslims reside in Switzerland. When it is completed, the Langenthal minaret will be the fifth in the country.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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