Riyadh: Several prominent Saudi Islamic scholars and preachers lambasted the recent Swiss referendum to impose ban on the construction of mosque minarets in the country

Speaking to Gulf News, they said that this is another evidence of the West’s antagonism towards Islam and such moves detail the serious initiatives being undertaken for holding dialogue among followers of various religions in different parts of the world.

Shaikh Abdul Mohsen Al Shahri, an eminent scholar in Islamic jurisprudence, said that the Swiss referendum was part of a new hostile campaign unleashed against Islam and Muslims in the West. “This is a clear evidence of the racial and religious segregation still prevails in the West, especially in a country, which boasts of an exemplary model of democratic ideals,” he said adding that this serves as a severe blow to the so called secular image of Switzerland.

On his part, Shaikh Murshid Al Motairi, a noted Saudi preacher, underlined the need for launching a massive campaign to withdraw investments of Muslim countries from Swiss banks and halt going to Switzerland for holiday making.

According to banking sources, the volume of Arab investments in Swiss banks amounted to more than $400 billion.

This makes up more than 10 per cent of the total banking deposits to the tune of $3.7 trillion. Naif Al Otaibi, a mosque imam in Riyadh, told Gulf News that Switzerland is now opening a new chapter of confrontation between religions and civilizations. “This is high time to kick start a campaign calling for a boycott of Swiss products and withdraw money from Swiss banks,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Prof. Ekmeliddin Ihsanoglu voiced disappointment and concern over the Swiss public referendum to ban building of minarets in the mosques in Switzerland.

The Secretary General of OIC, which groups 57 Muslim countries, qualified the ban as an unfortunate development that would tarnish the image of Switzerland as a country upholding respect for diversity, freedom of religion and human rights.

He described this as the latest example of growing anti-Islamic incitements in Europe by the extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, scare-mongering ultra-right politicians who reign over common sense, wisdom and universal values.

The Chief of OIC, which represents about 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, expressed his deep regret that at a time when the Muslim world and Muslim societies around the world have been engaged in a struggle to fight extremism, the Western societies are being hostage to extremists who exploit Islam as a scapegoat and a springboard to develop their own political agenda which in turn contributes to polarization and fragmentation in the societies.

He stated that this move also highlighted the need for promoting genuine dialogue at the grass-roots level to alleviate all misunderstandings and misinformation that lead to intolerance and misconceptions