In a referendum vote Sunday, Swiss citizens supported a ban on new minaret construction, voting against the protests of the Swiss government and liberal parties:
Pre-referendum polls had indicated a comfortable, if slowly shrinking, majority against the proposal, but official results Sunday showed that the S.V.P. and its allies had won 57 percent of the vote. The result came after a controversial campaign that played aggressively on the same fears of Muslim immigration and the spread of Islamic values that already resonate in other European countries.
“That Switzerland, a country with a long tradition of religious tolerance and the provision of refuge to the persecuted, should have accepted such a grotesquely discriminatory proposal is shocking indeed,” David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International’s deputy program director for Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement. (From the New York Times story)
A surprising development, to say the least. Switzerland is a strange country, institutionally – the legislature is generally constrained by the need to create supermajorities in order to enact any law, and altering the constitution is harder still. But, as is the case in California, the “rule by ballot initiative” throws things off considerably, giving fringe groups within the populace a lot more clout than minority parties in the legislative houses possess.
So far, I have yet to read any statements from the right-wing supporters of this proposal that clearly explain how banning minarets will do anything to prevent the spread of radical Islam.