Switzerland: Rejection of the Initiative Against Building of Minarets

Source: FSSPX News


The collection of signatures for the popular initiative “against the building of minarets” was launched by a committed numbering 16 people, among them 5 federal parliament members, on May 1st, 2007 (see DICI n° 157). On July 8, 2008, the Committee of Egerkingen had handed the initiative “against the building of minarets” with 114,895 signatures certified by the town councils, and specifying that “to deny the building of minarets was no attack against Islam. However, the initiative expressed the desire of the Swiss population to have a democratic right of participation regarding the construction of Islamic buildings, because the minaret is not a religious building but an imperialistic symbol.”

This past August 27, the Federal Council (the Swiss government) exceptionally spoke up before the text was submitted to the vote of the Parliament. It released a communiqué disapproving the federal popular initiative, though it had been recognized as valid with 113,540 signatures by the Council. This latter declared that “the initiative violated the rights of man approved by international law and was running counter to the essential values of the Swiss Constitution. The desired prohibition would jeopardize religious peace and would in no way check the broadcasting of Islam fundamentalist theses.” Consequently, the federal Council, in its communiqué, advised the Parliament to reject the initiative without proposing a counter-project.

On October 23, the Commission for Political Institution of the National Council dealt with the federal popular initiative “against the building of minarets” and recommended, with 16 votes versus 7, that it be rejected. Thus the Commission followed in the footsteps of the Federal Council. Like this latter, it deemed that the initiative coming from the circles of the UDC and UDF was in contradiction with a series of basic principles: equality before the law, denial of discrimination, freedom of belief, proportionality, guaranty of property and respect of international law. So said its president Gerhard Pfister (PDC/ZG).

Besides, the text would become too involved into cantonal law, especially concerning town and country planning, and construction rules. From a social point of view, it would jeopardize religious peace in Switzerland. Instead of fighting against violent and fundamentalist Islam, it might only fuel the fire of violence. Indeed, this text would jeopardize the integration of Muslims, who, for the largest majority, respect Swiss laws, continued Mr. Pfister. Lastly, if the initiative was accepted, Switzerland would no longer be able to keep his international commitments. It might run the risk of being condemned by the European Court for the Rights of Man in Strasbourg.

On October 24, the Federal Commission against Racial Discrimination (CFR) supported this stand by rejecting also the popular initiative “against the building of minarets.” Because the project “defames Muslims and is an attack against religious liberty guaranteed by fundamental  rights and the Rights of Man, as well as against the prohibition of discrimination.” The CFR advised the “rejection of the initiative, to encourage more contacts between Muslims and non-Muslims, and to support efforts aiming at forestalling conflicts.”


Reminder: The Federal Assembly is the supreme legislative authority of the Helvetic Confederation. It is composed of two chambers: the National Council, and the Council of the States. The two chambers deal successively with any affair. A text is adopted if the two chambers have come to terms. The Federal Assembly  sits in chambers which meets on certain occasions, during the elections or to receive the advice of the Federal Council on important issues. The National Council, or low chamber of the Federal Assembly numbers 200 members. The Swiss Federal Council, or Swiss government (executive power), numbers seven members elected for a 4-year term of office by the whole Federal Assembly together.