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Bahraini imams slam Swiss minaret vote

‘Outlawing construction reflects West's hypocrisy in matters relating to freedom of religion'

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief, Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 December 6, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Gulf News

Manama: Switzerland's referendum vote to ban the building of minarets has come under intense criticism from Bahrain's imams.

Some Jewish organisations in Europe have also slammed the move.

Last week, 57 per cent of Swiss voters approved a measure outlawing the construction of minarets pushed by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP).

However, imams in Bahrain said that the result reflected a tendency to suppress personal religious freedom.

"The ban sharply contrasts with the pompous claims often made by the West about freedom of religion, human rights and tolerance," Jasem Al Saeedi, an independent MP in the lower house of the bicameral parliament, told worshippers at a mosque in Eisa town in central Bahrain.

In Arad, north of Manama, the capital, Naji Al Arabi said that Muslims were scandalised by the vote and urged all Arab and Muslim institutions to take action and help find solutions "before other anti-Islam measures are adopted".

"This is a highly critical issue for the Muslim minorities in Europe and there is an urgent need to tackle it collectively," said Al Arabi, a professor at the University of Bahrain. However, Shaikh Abdul Rahman Al Fadil warned worshippers not to rush into negative action, stressing that dialogue would be "much more interesting than any insensible decision".

"Angry and passionate reactions will inevitably result in negative results and will not help settle the issue.

"Dialogue and open conversations should be the standard in addressing the ban."

In Europe, several Jewish organisations, fearing that a crackdown on Islam could have repercussions for Jews as well, blasted the ban, saying that it was discriminatory and unjustifiable.

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