Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has joined a chorus of international criticism of Switzerland’s ban on minarets, saying it refelects an increasingly racist and fascist stance in Europe. The Swiss foreign minister said the vote may pose a threat to the country’s security.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Switzerland’s vote to ban the construction of minarets was a “sign of an increasing racist and fascist stance in Europe,” Turkish television Channel 7 reported on Tuesday. Islamophobia was a “crime against humanity,” just like anti-Semitism, Erdogan said.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül also criticized the Swiss referendum in which 57.5 percent of voters had backed an initiative brought by the conservative Swiss People’s Party and a smaller right-wing party which argued that minarets symbolize a quest for Islamic power. Gül said the vote was a “disgrace” for the people of Switzerland and showed how far Islamophobia had advanced in the Western world.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the more than 100,000 Turkish immigrants living in Switzerland were worried about the decision which “runs counter to human values and basic freedoms.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a statement that the ban was “discriminatory, deeply divisive and a thoroughly unfortunate step for Switzerland to take, and risks putting the country on a collision course with its international human rights obligations.”
“Questions could very well be raised within the UN about holding meetings and activities in Switzerland, even if the Geneva canton belonged to those which voted against the ban,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on his blog.
Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the ban posed a threat to Switzerland’s security. “Every attack on the co-existence of different cultures also endangers our security,” she said at a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Athens. She said there was a danger that the “provocation will lead to other provocations” and would foment extremism.
In Cairo, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, the country’s top cleric, said the ban was an attack on freedom of religion and an attempt to “hurt the feelings of the Islamic community inside and outside Switzerland.”
He called on Muslims in Switzerland to take legal action to try and reverse the ban.