Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 4 / Trend U.Sadikhova /
The OIC Ambassadorial Group in Geneva communicated to the Swiss government a letter in which the discriminatory decision to ban constructing minarets was strongly condemned. The letter which was forwarded to the Swiss government stated that "the decision was a manifest attack on an Islamic symbol which could only serve to spread hatred and intolerance towards Muslims in general and those living in Switzerland in particular."
The OIC reports that the letter was sent at the request of the OIC member-states on Thursday.
The OIC Ambassadorial Group in Geneva drew the attention of Swiss Government to the fact that "Muslims in Switzerland were peaceful and law abiding citizens. The ban was, therefore, a discriminatory measure that would lead to intolerance towards this community".
On Sunday the Swiss population supported a ban on building minarets on the territory of the confederacy in a general referendum.
The majority of the votes of the 59 percent of the population that participated in the referendum supported the Swiss People's Party (SVP), known for its nationalist slogans and hope to prohibit the construction of minarets in the country.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay described the vote as "a discriminatory, deeply divisive and thoroughly unfortunate step," RIA Novosti reported.
According to her, the ban on minarets risked putting Switzerland "on a collusion course with its international human rights obligations."
The High Commissioner also called propaganda posters "openly xenophobic", with which the Swiss People's Party (SVP) came to a referendum. The posters depicted woman wrapped in a black burqa on the backdrop of bristling with the same black minarets of the Swiss flag and the inscription "STOP!"
She also stated that "politics based on xenophobia or intolerance were extremely disquieting, wherever they occurred" and that "they were corrosive, and - beyond a certain point - could become highly disruptive and even dangerous".
The OIC Ambassadorial Group believed that the High Commissioner was correct to point out that "if allowed to gather momentum, discrimination and intolerance not only do considerable harm to individual members of the targeted group, but they also divide and harm society in general".
This ban also stands in sharp contradiction to Switzerland's international human rights obligations concerning freedom of expression, conscience and religion. It adds to the danger that this trend could spread to encompass other areas and activities related to the Muslims in Switzerland. There are reports that the Swiss Peoples Party is now planning further referenda to ban the headscarf among other measures, the letters says.
SVP representatives see the minarets not as religious, but rather as political symbol and calls on avoiding the "Islamization" of the country, while the Swiss government and parliament also opposed the referendum.
The Swiss ban should serve as a warning sign and a wake-up call for all Western countries where calls are being made for similar policies, as it would lead to divisive and discriminatory practices against their Muslim populations, the letter says.
The OIC Group hoped that the Swiss government would do all in its powers to rescind this decision through appropriate parliamentary and judicial measures.
According to various estimates, about 350,000-400,000 Muslims, mostly immigrants from Turkey and the Balkan countries, live in Switzerland, whose population is about 7.7 million people.
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