European Right: Let's all ban minarets (UPDATE: France, Sweden, Vatican)

European Right: Let's all ban minarets

Various responses to the Swiss decision to ban minarets.


"Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to church towers, no to minarets," says Italian minister Roberto Calderoli of Lega Nord. "In the popular referendum the Swiss balanced respect for freedom of religion with the need to stop the politics and propaganda linked to Islam."

Riccardo De Corato of the PdL party says that the minaret ban should be a lesson for Italy's Left.


Geert Wilders congratulated Switzerland and said: What is possible in Switzerland should be possible here too." He says his party will call on the cabinet to make such a referendum possible in the Netherlands, and if not, the PVV will propose such a law.


"It is very distressing that the Swiss people rejected building new minarets in a referendum," says Minister of Internal Affairs Ter Horst. She hopes that this will never happen in the Netherlands. "I am happy that we don't have any decisive referendum."

Also on behalf of Ernst Hirsch Ballin (Minister of Justice), she says that the Swiss people mixed up religion with attack and other expression of aggression, and that the Swiss government rejects the minaret ban. "There's a different between what the people want and what the government wants."


Filip Dewinter of the Belgian Vlaams Belang says: Just like Wilhelm Tell, the Swiss are a symbol for the resistance of many Europeans against foreign domination. The Islam, with its minarets and mosques, doesn't belong in Europe.

"Common sense has again gained on politically correct thinking. Despite decades of multicultural indoctrination the tenability of the Swiss hasn't been broken yet (..) Islam indeed doesn't belong in Europe. In contrast to the political authorities which embrace Islam and collaborate with it, a majority of Europeans wants to call a sound stop to the advancing Islam."

He will propose a bill in the Flemish parliament to stop the building of mosques and minarets in Flanders.


Head of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD) Kenan Kolat told Berlin daily Berliner Zeitung that the decision was "very regrettable," adding that basic rights such as religious freedom should not be allowed to come to popular vote.

"A minaret belongs to a mosque," Kolat said.

But Wolfgang Bosbach, a conservative Christian Democrat heading the parliamentary committee on interior policy, said that the vote should be taken seriously. He told daily Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday that the vote reflects a widely held fear of Islam within German society – though he said German laws provided enough solutions for practical decisions about minaret construction.

"But there are spectacular plans for large structures, such as in Cologne's Ehrenfeld district or in Duisburg-Marxloh, for which there is a lot of resistance simply because of the size," he told the paper.

Bosbach added that is "possible that some of these large buildings were planned to signal how strong Islam has become in Germany."


Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat (CDU) party reacted with similar caution. To criticise the Swiss ban would be counterproductive, said Wolfgang Bosbach a senior CDU MP. It reflected a fear of growing Islamisation "and this fear must be taken seriously," he said.


Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People's Party proposed in parliament to bring up the issue as a popular referendum. A third of the parliament members can decide to send a bill to a decision by popular referendum.

Karsten Lauritzen of the Liberal Party rejects the idea: "We don't legislate in parliament on particular buildings. And then there are some who will think it's limiting freedom of religion. I don't say that it is, but that it's an element in the issue." Lauritzen also said that this isn't an issue for a popular referendum. Denmark has a democracy with politician to make decision and if the people are unsatisfied with the decisions, they can vote for different politicians.


Jimmie Åkesson of Sweden Democrats says: "Freedom of religion is not the same as an absolute right which lets you do and build what you want in the name of religion contrary to the will of the people. The minarets are one of the foremost symbols of both multiculturalism and the Islamization of Europe. The result of today's Swiss referendum should be seen as yet one more in a series of clear signals that the European people have began to have enough of both these phenomena. I congratulate Switzerland and the Swiss People's Party for having had, despite the fierce opposition from the establishment, the courage to speak their mind in a controversial issue.


Sweden has criticised the outcome of a Swiss referendum approving the ban of minarets in the country. Speaking to Swedish Radio news, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the vote an evidence of prejudices among the Swiss population.

The clear no to the building of further minarets in Switzerland could indicate some kind of fear towards Muslims, Bildt added. But the vote is likely to send negative signals on all levels, the Foreign Minister predicted.


France's foreign minister has condemned Switzerland's referendum vote to ban the building of minarets.

Bernard Kouchner said he was shocked by the decision which, he said, showed "intolerance" and should be reversed.


"I am a bit shocked by this decision," Mr Kouchner told France's RTL radio on Monday. "It is an expression of intolerance and I detest intolerance.

"I hope the Swiss will reverse this decision quickly," he added.


France's far right National Front welcomed the outcome, saying that the "elites should stop denying the aspirations and fears of the European people, who, without opposing religious freedom, reject ostentatious signs that political-religious Muslim groups want to impose."


However spokesman for Mr Sarkozy's centre-right Union for a Popular Majority, took a different line, saying that the vote showed the degree to which radical Islam was alarming Europe's citizens. Xavier Bertrand, the party leader, said that he was "not sure that minarets are needed in order to practise Islam in France".


The Swiss Government, which opposed the vote, reassured members of the faith that "this is not a rejection of the Muslim community, religion or culture." The Conference of Swiss Bishops also criticised the result, saying that it "heightens the problems of cohabitation between religions and cultures."


Yvan Perrin, vice-president of the SVP, the largest party in the federal Parliament, said that the vote was a lesson to the elite. Swiss companies should not worry about suffering from a backlash from Muslim countries, he said. "If our companies continue to make good quality products, they have nothing to worry about."


The Vatican on Monday endorsed criticism by Swiss bishops that a vote in Switzerland to ban the construction of mosque minarets was

Antonio Maria Sveglio, president of the pontifical council on migration, told the ANSA news agency that "we are on the same page" as the Conference of Swiss Bishops.

Sources: Aftenbladet (Norwegian); SR, The Local, BBC, Times of India, Times (English); Berlingske (Danish); AD, HLN, Trouw (Dutch); mynewsdesk (Swedish)

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