Dutch call for anti-minaret referendum


Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party has said it wants a referendum on the building of minarets similar to the one held in Switzerland on Sunday . Mr Wilders expects the Dutch to ban new minarets just like a 57.5 percent majority of Swiss did.

The referendum result is hailed as a breakthrough by the opposition MP. “It’s the first time that people in Europe have stood up to a form of Islamisation.”

Other xenophobic nationalist parties in Europe are taking a similar line to the Netherlands’ Freedom Party. Mario Borghezio, a Euro-MP for Italy’s Northern League (Lega Nord) called for a referendum in Italy, saying “The flag of a courageous Switzerland which wants to remain Christian is flying over a near-Islamised Europe.”

Switzerland is home to 6 million Christians and 400,000 Muslims. There are currently 200 mosques in the Alpine country, but only four minarets.

Insult to Muslims
International reactions to the Swiss vote have been negative and critical. Islamic countries, and Muslims in Switzerland itself, say that banning the building of new minarets puts limits on freedom of religion. “It’s an insult to all Muslims,” Egypt’s Great Mufti Ali Gomaa said.
The Swiss government is obliged by law to implement the ban following the popular vote in favour, but the measure is likely to be found in contravention of international agreements, to which Switzerland is bound, such as the European Human Rights Convention and United Nations agreements on human rights.

EU critical
Current EU chair Sweden said that the Swiss ban flouts freedom of expression. “I don’t think we can build a Europe without that freedom,” Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said in Brussels. Her colleage from the Swedish Immigration Department added, “How peculiar that such things are determined by referendum in Switzerland. In my country, they are decided on by local town planners.”

Other European politicians added their voices. “It’s a manifestation of intolerance,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a reaction.

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