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Swiss Muslims speak out against minaret ban

The initiative to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland discriminates against Muslims as a religious minority, Swiss Muslims believe.

At a joint media conference on Thursday, representatives of national Muslim umbrella organisations explained the position of their communities towards the anti-minaret initiative which comes to a popular vote on November 29.

"Muslims in Switzerland identify with Switzerland as their home, whose constitution and laws guarantee them protection, freedom and security," said Farhad Afshar on behalf of the Coordination of Islamic Organisations of Switzerland.

Afshar accused the initiators of the anti-minaret campaign of attacking Islam and the freedom of religious practice under the cover of attacking minarets.

He pointed out that all religious buildings have their own specific characteristics which are part of the identity of the religion involved. It is up to members of whichever religion to decide what they want to build, within the general framework of the law.

He warned that both Switzerland's excellent image in the Muslim world and the hopes that many Muslims placed in the country could be damaged by the "senseless" campaign.

Hisham Maizar, chairman of the Federation of Islamic Umbrella Organisations of Switzerland, said that the initiative was discriminatory, adding that Muslims in the country were fed up with being the butt of populist attacks.

"Muslims living in Switzerland are explicitly and decisively opposed to violence, terror, extremism and destructive populism," he said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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