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Vote against minarets sparks global outrage

Kuwaiti religious scholars urge Muslim and Arab diplomats to submit formal complaint to Swiss courts

Swiss ban on construction of new minarets
Image Credit: AP
Walter Wobmann, president of the committee 'Yes for a ban of Minarets', looks at a campaign poster. Swiss citizens voted on the initiative to ban the construction of further minarets in Switzerland.

Manama, Cairo, Paris: Muslim leaders all over the world have expressed dismay over Switzerland's shock vote to ban the construction of new minarets.

Denouncing the decision, Kuwaiti religious scholars said Arab and Muslim diplomats and the Organisation of Islamic Conference should take up the issue with the Swiss authorities.

"Switzerland has always promoted respect for human rights and religious pluralism, and international law calls for respect for religious minorities. Muslim and Arab diplomats should submit a formal complaint to Swiss courts," Dr Bassam Al Shatti, head of religious studies at the University of Kuwait, said.

Egypt's Mufti Ali Juma'a said: "It [the ban] constitutes an attempt to insult the feelings of Muslims inside and outside Switzerland," adding that the move can deepen "hatred and discrimination" against Muslims.

Lebanese cleric Mohammad Hussain Fadlallah said the ban was in line with a media frenzy to portray Muslims negatively. He urged the West to seek better understanding of Islam.

Maskuri Abdullah, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama in Indonesia, which has 40 million members in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, condemned the vote and called on followers not to be provoked by it.

In Pakistan, Khurshid Ahmad, vice-president of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political party represented in parliament, said: "This development reflects extreme Islamophobia among people in the West."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said: "I am a bit shocked by this decision. It is an expression of intolerance and I detest intolerance. I hope the Swiss will reverse this decision quickly."

The Vatican endorsed criticism by Swiss bishops that the vote was a blow to religious freedom.

With additional inputs from agencies

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The Swiss vote is a good example why Democracy is far from being a "perfect" system, as so many people claim it to be.The Swiss system has allowed a majority of voters to impose its superficial feelings upon a nation, thereby ignoring the fundamental rights of a minority. It seems no efforts have been made to come up with an alternative that might conciliate both parties.I thought Democray was supposed to promote freedom and security. What's fundamentally wrong with minarets anyhow ?

Gerhard

1 December 2009 13:35jump to comments
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