[ 03. Dec 2009 ]

Voting Against Minarets Means Voting Against Tolerance

UNITED for Intercultural Action wants to express its concerns and deep regret on the decision of the Swiss referendum voters to ban the construction of new minarets in Switzerland. 57% had casted the vote for this choice promoted by the right wing extremist Swiss People's Party (SVP).


The way in which this right-wing populist campaign has been conducted was based on unfair prejudice against the Swiss Muslim community, which ultimately it is an attack on social cohesion in Switzerland. The manipulating campaign around this shameful vote utilised fears and patriotism of the Swiss people to mobilise voters: on the campaign poster a black veiled Muslim woman stands in front of the red an white Swiss flag, which is perforated by a forest of minarets that look like missiles.

The same political party gained 29% of the votes in the last federal elections 2007. In that time they also used a racist poster showing three white sheep kicking out a black one against the background of the Swiss flag, labeled with the slogan: 'For more Security'.
That was an attempt to appeal to the lowest fears and emotions of the people as they recently did again in the referendum campaign against minarets.

There is no evidence of a radical Islam in Switzerland, however this discriminating vote could create a problem where there was not one before. Hatred and Extremism cannot be fought with hatred and intolerance. Besides complicated issues such as immigration, diversity and religious cohesion cannot be explained by simple answers as racist populism is doing in Switzerland and other European countries.

European democratic civil society, engaged in the fight against intolerance, must not be quite in front of such attack against our common values of tolerance, diversity, freedom of religion and respect for human dignity. Therefore, UNITED for Intercultural Action calls to challenge the ban of minarets in Switzerland by legal and democratic means.

Source: UNITED E-NEWS 2/12/2009 - UNITED is the pan-European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees, supported by over 560 organisations in 46 European countries. How to join the network see: :: - 'joining the network'.