Swiss gov't 'very concerned' over minaret ban

Turkey chides Switzerlan

swiss minaret ban protest 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
swiss minaret ban protest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The Swiss government is "very concerned" over a weekend referendum that declares the building of any new minarets in Switzerland illegal, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said Tuesday. Speaking during a meeting of foreign ministers of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Calmy-Rey said that limitations on the coexistence of different cultures and religions "also endangers our security," and that provocations risk inflaming extremism. However, she stressed that the ban was only on new minarets, not on new mosques, and said Swiss Muslims were well integrated into society. She said the decision would not change Swiss foreign policy and that the country would continue to maintain close relations with Muslim nations. Also Tuesday, Turkey, which aspires to become the first Muslim member of the European Union, said that the ban violates basic human rights and freedoms. In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the Swiss vote had caused disappointment and was unfortunate. The statement called on Switzerland to correct the decision, adding that more than 100,000 Turks living in Switzerland were worried. Europe's top human-rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, has also criticized the ban, indicating that the heavily criticized vote could be overturned. Supporters of the ban say the number of Muslims in Switzerland had grown sharply from 50,000 in 1980, but it is still only 4 percent of the 7.5 million population.