Zurich city council said yesterday that a poster showing missile-like minarets on a Swiss flag can be displayed ahead of a national referendum on whether to ban the building of minarets at mosques in Switzerland.
Zurich followed Lucerne and Geneva in arguing that the posters, which also feature a veiled woman with ‘menacing eyes’, were protected by free speech. (Good for them!)
Basel and Lausanne have banned them saying they paint a ‘racist, disrespectful and dangerous image’ of Islam. The posters, which urge a ban on the building of minarets, are part of a campaign by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party.
Zurich city council said it disapproved of the posters – which also feature a veiled woman with what could be seen as menacing eyes – because they portrayed Islam as ‘threatening, negative and dangerous’. (A very accurate portrayal)
But officials said the posters had to be accepted as part of political free speech in the run-up to the November 29 vote.
The LIBERAL Swiss Federal Commission Against Racism said yesterday it viewed the billboards as an attack on all Muslims in Switzerland.’This is a further step toward a dangerous polarization of the political debate,’ the commission said.
The posters argue that the construction of new minarets should be banned because they are a symbol of Islamic political conquest rather than religious freedom. So far, there are four minarets in Switzerland. (4 too many)
Henri-Maxime Khedoud, a Geneva resident and spokesman for the Swiss Association of Secular Muslims, said the posters were an attempt to play on voters’ fear of Islam. (A valid fear)
‘They give the impression that we are trying to impose sharia law like in Saudi Arabia, but this is not true,’ he said. (HAH!)
The Alpine country saw a large influx of Muslim refugees from former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, and now has over 310,000 Muslim residents, or about four per cent of the population – more than in Britain, where Muslims form 2.7 per cent of the population, according to a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion.
Khedoud said Switzerland’s Muslims were most concerned about everyday racism, not a lack of minarets. ‘The problem for us is integration and finding work for our children,’ he said. Nevertheless, the association plans to sue the People’s Party ahead of the vote, Khedoud said.(Why am I not surprised?) UK DAILY MAIL