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Journalists for Peace Pen Letter to Swiss President Asking for Lifting of Ban on Minarets
From: Mr Iftikhar Chaudri Most Immediate
Journalists For International Peace
Mr Hans-Rudolf Merz
President of Swiss Confederation
Dated: 30 Nov 2009
Subject: Ban on Minarets, attached to Mosques
I hope that letter of mine will find you in the best of health and prosperity. The peace lovers and promoters of Interfaith Dialogue, all over the world met a set-back , when Swiss government banned construction of minarets , the slender towers attached to mosques, after the most controversial Referendum (29 Nov), in the history of Switzerland ever. The Swiss government invariably prompted the other countries to take similar actions against the minority religions on the demand of the public and its pressure. The accusation of the Swiss People’s Party, the largest party in the Swiss parliament, that minarets can be divisive political symbols and signs of an increasing Islamic presence in Switzerland - is absurd and without any reasoning.
The architectural designs are not aimed at promoting any ‘ism’ in general or Islamization in particular. Journalists For International Peace supports the stance of The Swiss Council of Religions, which includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders - it issued a statement rejecting the call for the ban. In a statement, Catholic bishops said the ban would hinder interreligious dialogue and that Swiss building codes already regulate the construction and operation of minarets.
It is pointed out, that the Catholic Church met similar opposition in 1832 when it wanted to build a huge bell tower for the Valentin Church in predominantly Protestant Lausanne. It was another century before the church was allowed its tower.
Reportedly, Switzerland only has two small minarets, one in Zurich and one in Geneva. It is pointed out that mosques in Switzerland tend to be found in old warehouses and factories and the largest mosque in the Swiss capital, Bern, is in a former underground parking garage.
Excellency, it is the dire need of the time, that to promote Interfaith Dialogue and develop a harmony among various religious segments of the World Society. The subject controversial referendum, on purely a religious matter, is against the international democratic norms, Universal Fundamental Rights and UN Charter of Human Rights.
The ban will instigate various religious groups to pressurize their respective governments to impose similar bans. The decision of the Swiss Government will further widen the gulf between Muslims and other religions. It will personify a conspiracy against the non-Muslim communities, residing as the minorities in Muslim countries.
Excellency, it is therefore, requested to lift the ban on the construction of the minarets attached with mosques, promote the Interfaith Dialogue, restore the confidence of Muslims of Switzerland and create a conducive atmosphere for mutual harmony and Peace. I have forwarded similar requests to the members of the Swiss Federal Councilors: Didier Burkhalter, Eveline Widmer Schlumpf, Moritz Leuenberger, Doris Leuthard (Vice-President), Micheline Calmy-Rey, Ueli Maurer, and Corina Casanova; to review the matter accordingly, for the future peaceful World.
I also request to Mr. Toni Brunner, Chairman of Swiss People’s Party to initiate a Dialogue with Muslim minority to get their views, besides The Swiss Council of Religions, which includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders may also be taken on board. Journalists for International Peace has decided to raise the matter in World Religions Conference scheduled to be held at Melbourne on 4th Dec. It has, also been decided that JIP will take up the case with Federal Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights, if the subject ban is not lifted, in due course of time.
Journalists For International Peace