Rorate Caeli

Good news: a ban on minarets in Switzerland

Minaret ban approved by 57 per cent of voters

It's official: no more minarets will be built in Switzerland

To the great surprise of pollsters and the regret of the government, the Swiss on Sunday said yes to a ban on the construction of minarets.

According to final results, 57.5 per cent of voters and a majority of cantons backed the initiative.
Good: other European nations should follow the example. While belfries and crosses remain the main structures to rise above houses and buildings in cities and villages throughout the great Continent, there will still be hope for Europe.

Update: Official press release of the Federal Council, the supreme executive authority of the Confederation:

'Yes' to popular initiative against the construction of minarets

Bern, 29.11.2009 - A majority of the Swiss people and the cantons have adopted the popular initiative against the construction of minarets. The Federal Council respects this decision. Consequently the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted. The four existing minarets will remain. It will also be possible to continue to construct mosques. Muslims in Switzerland are able to practise their religion alone or in community with others, and live according to their beliefs just as before.

The Federal Council and a clear majority of Parliament came out against the initiative. For the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP), Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the outcome of the vote reflects fears among the population of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies, which reject our national traditions and which could disregard our legal order. "These concerns have to be taken seriously. The Federal Council has always done so and will continue to do so in future. However, the Federal Council takes the view that a ban on the construction of new minarets is not a feasible means of countering extremist tendencies."

The four existing minarets are not affected by the ban. Mosques and Muslim places of worship can continue to be constructed and used. The Justice Minister stated that "Today's popular decision is only directed against the construction of new minarets. It is not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture. Of that the Federal Council gives its assurance." Freedom of religion was and is a key element of Switzerland's successful approach. The dialogue between religious and social groups and the authorities must continue and with fresh resolve. Indispensible prerequisites for an open and constructive debate are respect and openness towards those that hold different views.