Another racism row flared up in Switzerland after the country’s far-right party managed to trigger a referendum on banning minarets in the country.
The demand for a popular vote was driven by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which used an image of a white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag to illustrate its anti-immigration policies in last year’s election campaign. The party managed to get more than 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for the ban, thus forcing the vote.
There are just two minarets at mosques in Switzerland, neither of which broadcasts calls to prayer, and a further three under consideration. Muslims account for about 310,000 people out of a population of 7.5 million.
But the controversy has echoes of a debate that has seen campaigns across Europe against minarets being built at mosques in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia. In Cologne, plans to expand the Ditib Mosque with a dome and two 54-metre minarets triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and the city’s Catholic archbishop.