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Minaret demonstration ends peacefully

Around 700 Muslims on Saturday held a peaceful demonstration in Switzerland’s capital to protest the result of a vote banning the construction of new minarets.

Speakers at the afternoon rally outside the parliament in Bern denounced the ban, approved in a referendum two weeks ago, as a “smear campaign”.

The protest was not supported by the country's main Muslim organisations.

Police had positioned officers at the square and in side streets. There was light drizzle.

“We have shown exactly what we wanted to,” said Nicolas Blancho, an organiser. Blancho said he believed the 57.5 per cent of people who voted to ban minarets, the spires attached to mosques, did not hate Islam but were frightened by propaganda.

He said that no Muslims in Switzerland had ever demanded the introduction of sharia law. The Swiss right had made radical Islam and sharia law one of the central issues in the campaign to ban minarets.

Not attending the rally was Pierre Vogel, a controversial German imam. Vogel had been prohibited from attending the rally by Swiss immigration officials over fears of a threat to public order. He was turned away at the border late Friday evening attempting to enter the country. and agencies


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