Swiss to Hold Referendum on Muslim Minaret Ban

July 8, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press

Switzerland will hold a nationwide referendum on whether to ban the construction of minarets where Muslims traditionally issue the call to prayer, officials said Tuesday.

Swiss nationalists have collected enough signatures to force a vote on the ban, the Interior Ministry said. Organizers backed by the nationalist Swiss People's Party and the fringe Federal Democratic Union say they are acting to fight the political spread of Islam. They argue that the minaret is a symbol of political and religious claim to power rather than a mere religious sign.

No date has been set for the referendum. If it is approved, the Swiss parliament must pass a law enshrining a construction ban in the constitution.