Switzerland is opposing a move by several states at the United Nations Human Rights Council to denounce 'Islamophobic' bans on building new minarets on mosques.
A draft resolution proposed by Muslim and African states for consideration at the Geneva-based council condemns such bans, claiming they are contrary to international human rights obligations relating to freedoms of religion and expression.
“In principle Switzerland disagrees with the concept of a resolution devoted to the defamation of religion, which is regularly presented as part of the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council,” foreign ministry spokesman Raphaël Saborit told the Swiss News Agency on Wednesday.
“Switzerland defends religious freedom that protects the right of every believer to freely practise their religion, and not religion itself,” he added.
The draft resolution says a ban on minarets is a “manifestation of Islamophobia that clearly contravenes international human rights obligations concerning freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and expression”.
The text is to be put to the council for adoption before the end of its plenary session, which runs until March 26.
On November 29, 2009 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters decided in favour of a people's initiative seeking a ban on the building of new minarets in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch and agencies