GENEVA – After its success in obtaining a legal blanket ban on the construction of mosque minarets, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is planning more restrictions on the Muslim minority in the European country.”Voters gave a strong signal to stop the claim to power by political Islam in Switzerland at the expense of our laws and values,” SVP lawmaker Adrian Amstutz told Swissinfo on Tuesday, December 1.
“Muslims must be spurred to integrate into society.”
He said the SVP, the largest party in parliament, would also seek a ban on burqa – a loose body-covering including a face-veil – building Muslim cemeteries and exempting Muslim pupils from mixed swimming lessons.
“Forced marriages, female circumcision, special dispensation from swimming lessons and the burka are top of the list,” Amstutz asserted.The government announced in October plans to tighten the law to crack down on forced marriages, while the Christian Democratic Party has been pushing for a burka ban.
SVP leader Toni Brunner also said his party would seek a ban on hijab, which Islam considers an obligatory dress code for women, at workplace.
The rightwing is emboldened by its success in obtaining a legal blanket ban on the construction of mosque minarets.
Over 57 percent of voters supported on Sunday a SVP-championed proposal to ban the building of minarets in Switzerland, becoming the first European country to legalize such a ban.
The SVP projected minarets as a symbol of Shari`ah and Islamization of Swiss society.
Islam is the second religion in Switzerland after Christianity.
Estimated at nearly 400,000, Muslims make up nearly 4.5 percent of the population.
Amstutz, a senior SVP member, warned against any attempt to delay the implementation of the minaret ban.”Those who question whether the text of the initiative can be put into practice show an alarming lack of appreciation for democratic rights.”
The leadership wants Switzerland to suspend its membership in an international agreement if the European Court of Human Rights decided against the minaret ban.
The 47-nation Council of Europe said the ban “raises concerns as to whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, should be subject to popular votes.”
Some fear the minarets ban could herald a new surge in populist, anti-immigrant sentiment in Switzerland.
“It could well be the beginnings of a new right-wing surge,” Clive Church, a Swiss politics expert from Kent University, told Reuters.
“We’ll definitely celebrate,” said Nadja Pieren, who attended a rally supporting the ban.
“It’s to show that we don’t want political Islam in Switzerland.”
But the minarets ban continued to draw international criticism.
“I urge people everywhere to take this issue of discrimination seriously,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.
“If allowed to gather momentum, discrimination and intolerance not only do considerable harm to individual members of the targeted group, they also divide and harm society in general.”