Switzerland: Muslims Seek Official State Recognition

Source: FSSPX News

The desire for official recognition has been expressed by the Islamic community in the Canton of Lucerne, which numbers 14,000 Muslims, according to the daily Neue Luzerner Zeitung of September 11. In fact, the new cantonal Constitution opens up the possibility for non-Christian religious communities to be recognized as official churches. They would be granted certain rights, such as that of collecting taxes from their members. The Islamic Community of Lucerne (IGL) is looking forward to seize this opportunity in order to ensure a better integration and to carry out their responsibilities. “Muslims want to be part of Lucerne society, not remain in the background,” said Petrit Alimi, the vice-president of IGL. With these taxes, the work of IGL could become professional and the community would have financial resources at its disposal for social projects.

At this moment, only the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Catholic Christian Churches have the benefit of official recognition. Among the conditions imposed on non-Christian communities in order to be recognized by the state, are: a democratic organization, open accountability and equality of the sexes as far as public law is concerned. Any eventual recognition must first be approved by the Cantonal parliament. If necessary, it is also possible that such a bill would have to be put to an obligatory referendum. In the current discussion on this article of the Lucerne Constitution, a proposal has been put forward to this effect.

Following the Muslims, the Serbian Orthodox and Tamil Hindu communities have also expressed an interest in having official recognition in the canton of Lucerne. The priest Dragan Stanojevic, head of the Serbian Orthodox parish of Central Switzerland, which has around 20,000 members, stated, however, in the Neue Luzerner Zeitung of September 19, that such a step could happen only in three or four years’ time. For the moment, all of his community’s energy would go into the search for a church. The Tamil Hindu community, which has 2,500 members in the canton of Lucerne – 5,000 in central Switzerland – could also be seeking recognition because of the favorable contacts which have developed with the authorities, according to the leader of the community, Sasitharan Ramakrishnasarma.
(Sources: apic/NeueLuzernerZeitung)