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Thursday 18 December  
Minarets don't fit the landscape, 57 percent of Swiss say in vote (Flickr/Kecko)
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The Hague, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands

Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban

Published on : 30 November 2009 - 4:29pm | By Rob Kievit
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Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen of the Netherlands does not condemn the Swiss minaret ban which was voted in on Sunday. Mr Verhagen said on his Twitter page that the essential thing is for countries to fully guarantee freedom of religion. If that is safeguarded, local planning authorities can decide on additional building rules.

"Anyone should be able to practice their religion, also in mosques. Whether there should be a minaret is decided by the local town planners," Mr Verhagen tweeted (in Dutch).

Dutch MP Geert Wilders' Freedom Party has said it wants a referendum similar to the one held in Switzerland on Sunday . Mr Wilders expects the Dutch to ban new minarets just like a 57.5 percent majority of Swiss did. The ban is limited to the towers only, it does not affect the building of mosques.

Switzerland is home to 6 million Christians and 400,000 Muslims. There are currently 200 mosques in the Alpine country, but only four minarets.

The referendum result is hailed as a breakthrough by the Dutch opposition MP. "It's the first time that people in Europe have stood up to a form of Islamisation."

Right-wingers rejoicing
Other xenophobic nationalist parties in Europe are taking a similar line to the Netherlands' Freedom Party. The Danish populist People's Party led by Pia Kjaersgaard welcomed the vote and demanded that a referendum be held in Denmark, where no minarets have been erected so far.

Austria's right-wing parties FPÖ and BZÖ resurrected their old demand for a minaret ban immediately after the outcome of the Swiss vote was announced. A factual ban is already in effect in the parties' heartland, the provinces of Kärnten and Vorarlberg. Austria has three mosques with minarets.

Mario Borghezio, a Euro-MP for Italy's Northern League (Lega Nord) called for a referendum in Italy, saying "The flag of a courageous Switzerland which wants to remain Christian is flying over a near-Islamised Europe."

Insult to Muslims
Other international reactions to the Swiss vote have been negative and critical. Islamic countries, and Muslims in Switzerland itself, say that banning the building of new minarets puts limits on the freedom of religion. "It's an insult to all Muslims," Egypt's Great Mufti Ali Gomaa said.

Speaking for the joint Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, the group's head Farhad Afshar said,
"The most painful for us is not the minaret ban, but the symbol sent by this vote. Muslims do not feel accepted as a religious community."

The Swiss government is obliged by law to implement the ban following the popular vote in favour, but the measure is likely to be found in contravention of international agreements, to which Switzerland is bound, such as the European Human Rights Convention and United Nations agreements on human rights.

EU critical
Current EU chair Sweden said that the Swiss ban flouts freedom of expression, and calls it an expression of prejudice. Swedish Immigration Minister Tobias Billström said, "How peculiar that such things are determined by referendum in Switzerland. In my country, they are decided on by local town planners."

Other European politicians added their voices. "It's a manifestation of intolerance," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a reaction.

Explaining the significance of Sunday's referendum, Switzerland's Justice Minister Eveline Wedmer-Schlumpf said in Brussels that the ban targets just the minarets, but "obviously not the Muslim community" in her country. It was "not a vote against Islam, but a vote directed against fundamentalist utterances", she said.

Minarets don't fit the landscape, 57 percent of Swiss say in vote
(Photo: Churches in Thusis, Switzerland. Flickr/Kecko)

Discussion

Aftab 15 December 2009 - 8:45pm / Saudi Arabia
Swiss people are the brains of Europe. They can see things coming. Minaret ban is a right step towards stopping a wrong parochial concept. The world should question Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries' track-record of their tolerance towards other religious groups and minorities, which, is almost boils down to crimes against humanity. Islam has to take what it gives to the world - hatred. Islam is a terror doctrine propounded by world's first and worst terrorist.
Mustafa---ch 3 December 2009 - 11:53pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
Shameful that the people accused of a tolerant and civilized as the Swiss People's extremism. To be the owner of a glorious past and a bright present positive neutrality in a people by example in Izerb Altaadip respect and coexistence. And that he exercised his right of the project and said no to Islamization and underdeveloped Mdahirha veils, the veil .. Etc., because Switzerland is a crash happening, freedom and democracy.
Mustafa---ch 3 December 2009 - 11:50pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
Shameful that the people accused of a tolerant and civilized as the Swiss People's extremism. To be the owner of a glorious past and a bright present positive neutrality in a people by example in Izerb Altaadip respect and coexistence. And that he exercised his right of the project and said no to Islamization and underdeveloped Mdahirha veils, the veil .. Etc., because Switzerland is a crash happening, freedom and democracy.
Andreas 3 December 2009 - 6:42pm / Switzerland
Let's be clear, as some anonymous posted: most of the muslim countries are intolerant against other religions. That's a fact. The most dangerous countries -regarding tolerance- are not the ones in which the intolerance is practiced as a State official policy but the ones in which the society itself is intolerant. Sadly, that's the case in most (not all) muslim countries. The swiss people have the right to decide what is better for them, that's clear. Now, having decided to ban the construction of minarets make them intolerant? I doubt it. As simple as this: ask a muslim in Switzerland if they feel discriminated? I'm sure most of them would say that they live in relative harmony with their neighbours. In the other hand, ask a christian living in a muslim country if they feel discriminated. Even in the more tolerant muslim State can't not compare the levels of tolerance of their citizens with levels of tolerance of a State in the EU. Muslim brothers, is your duty to first fix things in your homelands. After that you would have the moral right to ask for the same liberties in a foreign country.
Ola 2 December 2009 - 10:47pm / USA
http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/26/dabashi.muslim.americans/index.htm...
Ola 2 December 2009 - 10:46pm / USA
Guys, are you really going to go so low to equate Islam with terrorism? Really? Just so you know, under the ottoman empire, there was no terrorism. Islam condemns the killing of innocents, says if the enemy wants peace to give it to them, condemns the killing at any time of women, children, and elderly people, and says it is the duty to fight against oppression, tyranny, and persecutors. So called islamic states like Iran and Saudi Arabia obviously disobey this rule of Islam by oppressing people, even if they are disbelievers, Islam says to fight against oppression anywhere until it no longer exists and justice prevails. Back to my point about terrorism. It only came after Begin was elected and really started hurting the Palestinians and after the Afghan war, and modern day terrorism has a lot of fault because of America. it demolished Iran's democracy in 1953, the only democracy in the region and perhaps the only hope of democracy the middle east had supports Israel against the Palestinians which Arab countries feel for allow Israel to have nukes while Iran can't even have nuclear facilities for domestic uses supported Saddam Hussein when he gassed kurds and iranians who were frozen by the gas in positions of covering their babies so that they would not die destroyed Iraq by entering it for no reason, raping and widowing many women Created the modern form of terrorism which did not exist before Israel or the Afghan war. In the Afghan war, the US supported only the most extremist groups to fight against the invading Russians, including the Taliban and al'qaeda because it believed an extremist group would be the best at fighting. It encouraged the people to grow drugs which eventually got them addicted because drugs helped the war economy. AMERICA SUPPORTED OSAMA BIN LADEN and encouraged Taliban hat whips women to get into power because they believed Taliban would allow them to run an oil pipe underneath Afghanistan. it was america who trained these extremists in American facilities, it was America that told muslims of all arab countries it was jihad to fight against atheist Russians rather than telling them the truth that it was really a fight against invaders. tracing back all the terrorist attacks that have occured on America and the British etc. (these did not exist before Begin was elected in Israel and the Afghan war), all of them are Afghan veterans. America taught them espionage and how to disembowel their enemies and placed politics in the schools to teach kids to fight against the Russian infidels. This banning of the minarets is more than just banning these towers; it is about how the government endorses the intolerance of its people. People were prejudiced against blacks in the US, but the US still began giving them rights, no? And actually, Saudi Arabia is considered to be a very holy area in Islam, and originally in the beginning people had 4 months to leave the area once the treaties ended. It was meant to be for the worship of only Allah. However, now, that is not the case, but the qu'ran does prohibit burning and destroying other people's places of worship. So, even though new churches cannot be built in Saudi Arabia, the old ones can stay. But you see, the difference between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland is that Saudi Arabia's purpose is to attempt to be an Islamic state (though personally i think it fails on so many levels) while Switzerland is supposed to be a free land for everyone to practice whatever they want. For all you haters out there, please educate yourselves about history and Islam. Look at historical trends and actually read multiple translations of the qu'ran not out of context (the killing quotes of unbelievers refers to those who had persecuted the prophet and were kicking and murdering the Muslims in the town).
Hiram 3 December 2009 - 11:59am / USA
"For all you haters out there, please educate yourselves about history and Islam.".......The history of Islam is one of hate and murder and today it is still the same. You stated: "Islam condemns the killing of innocents, says if the enemy wants peace to give it to them, condemns the killing at any time of women, children, and elderly people, and says it is the duty to fight against oppression, tyranny, and persecutors." What I hear you saying is: The thousands of women, children, and elderly who die every dayin the name of Islam is due to the consquences oppression, tyranny, and persecutors of Islam. Therefore, the women, children, and elderly who died in NYC, London, Bombay, and the thousand other places around the world they are considered collateral damage. Islam condemes the murders but to fight oppression, tyranny, and the persecutors, they accept those deaths as doing business with the infidels. Is that what you meant?
Desiree S.I. Flores 2 December 2009 - 9:39pm / Germany
Mosques, Synagogues, Ashrams, Churches are many times beautiful buildings built in their country of origin and then sometimes exported to other countries. Democracy is when there is a vote and we have to respect that vote, whether we like it or not. It's not The Best system, we have yet to invent that one on this planet but it's the best we've got so far, I think. Creating hate afterward any vote is just putting your agenda forwards, whatever it is, negativity breads negativity it's like a cancer gone haywire. And the origin is always fear, never love. The point of worship is to worship and live in a state of worship/gratitude/love all the time, this comes from within, in your heart/your soul whatever you want to call it, it does not come from a building, it will never come from any exterior material, it simply cannot. And as far as I can see, all around me or reading the newspapers, we all still have a long way to go but there are also already many signs of light flowing through our cracked hearts so there is always hope. I have moved countries many times and have come to the conclusion that you have to adapt to where you are, and respect the people of that country, thank them for having you, letting you live your life in peace and integrating with them, it can be a gift for both sides. Life is short, enjoy it and spread that joy to the rest of the planet, we're all on the same ship in the end. Imagine if that was at the forefront of the agenda's of every politician and media report, what would that world look like?
anonymous 2 December 2009 - 3:51pm / globe
I like your stand, Mustafa---ch, now that makes sense, as does court ruling of India. Enough is enough!
Mustafa---ch 2 December 2009 - 3:30pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
For their tolerance and Ahtzanhm of Muslims and their care and ensure their rights and freedoms. Finally, I tell them and like them enough is enough. Enough wet it to you, stop this exploitation of justice, freedom and Western democracy, which you can not even dream of it, in what is called the Arab world and Islam
Mustafa---ch 2 December 2009 - 3:27pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
Allosail various legitimate and Agheirparwap and Azthad and the marginalization of Shiite citizens and citizens of the owners of other religions and beliefs. I say to the owners of these [acts replies strong] ready and who have endured political Aktrmenha religious purposes, and based on predetermined positions known to everyone. I say be thankful to Switzerland and other Western countries Alhzarip free and civilized societies,
Mustafa---ch 2 December 2009 - 3:22pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
Why did not feel like this [acts replies strong] in Iran, for example???. When forbid the construction of Sunni mosques in Tehran and impede the construction in other parts of the country in addition to the ongoing national Azthadha others Shiite!!!. And the same thing in a lot of Arab and Islamic countries in the prevention of building Hussainiyat Shiite Muslims, and the prevention of places of worship for people of other religions to build Auarqlp
Mustafa---ch 2 December 2009 - 3:15pm / Strong reactions to Swiss minaret ban
Initially rejected the government and the Swiss parliament Hzerbinaalmozn because it represents a violation of the Constitution and the principle of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Hakma and organized a referendum and said voters have their say and supported the decision to ban construction of minarets. It seems that because the Swiss people Orteuralhfad on modernity and its democracy and the ancient of Islamization Mdahirha. And fear of the intentions behind the lining and construction of mosques and minarets
jasmin 2 December 2009 - 1:35pm / India
INDIA SHOWS THE WAY:September 29th, 2009 NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Tuesday banned all unauthorised new and future construction of places of worship on public land and sought strict compliance of its order from the union and state governments. A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundkam Sharma also asked various governments to decide the fate of millions of existing unauthorised places of worship on public land “on case to case basis”. The bench issued its order after Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian said the union government in consultation with state governments had evolved a consensus that no unauthorised place of worship should be allowed to be built on any public land in future. In a meeting of state chief secretaries with union Home Secretary G.K. Pillay on Sep 17, it was also decided that the government would take a decision on the fate of existing places of worship on public land and streets on a case to case basis, Subramanian told the bench. The government had convened the meeting following the apex court’s July 31 observation, asking for a complete stop to the public nuisance. “The solicitor general will file an affidavit to ensure that no temple, church, mosque or gurudwara is constructed on a public street or a public space,” the bench had demanded on July 31. It was hearing a lawsuit by the union government challenging a Gujarat High Court judgement of 2006, ordering the demolition of several places of worship of various faiths that had mushroomed illegally on thoroughfares and other public places. The high court ruling, however, had been suspended earlier by the apex court on May 2006 on an urgent lawsuit by the union government. With the bench seeking the union government’s assurance on the issue, the solicitor general had pointed out that land was a state subject. He than had assured the court that he would ask the centre to evolve a consensus on the tricky issue. The bench has also ordered district magistrates, collectors or commissioners all over the country to report compliance of its order to their respective chief secretaries, who would in turn report to the court.
sandrav 2 December 2009 - 9:44am / Nederlands
Amin, just ignore Anonymous who is obviously so full of the us vs. them mentality. Switzerland showed it´s true face of xenophobia as well as other European countries that want to copy Switzerland.
Arev Beilttog 1 December 2009 - 6:08pm / Germany
For Heaven's sake...neither freedom of religion nor Islam were in question - not building minarets was the issue. This is being blown way, way out of proportion. Besides, it is the Swiss who decide what happens in Switzerland and no one else.
Anonymous 1 December 2009 - 2:29pm / India
Fearing Taliban, Pak Hindus take Thar Express to India Vimal Bhatia , TNN 10 September 2009, 02:15am ISTText Size:| JAISALMER: In the past four years, some 5,000 Hindus may have crossed over from Pakistan, never to return. It has not been easy abandoning their Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment homes, sometimes even their families, but they say they had no choice: they had to flee the Taliban. It started as a trickle in 2006, the year the Thar Express was flagged off. The weekly train starts from Karachi, enters India at Munabao, a border town in Barmer, and runs up to Jodhpur. In the first year, 392 Hindus crossed over. This grew to 880 in 2007. The next year, the number was 1,240, and this year, till August, over 1,000 have crossed over. They just keep extending their visas and hope to become Indian citizens. Incidentally, these are official figures. Sources say there are many more who cross over and melt in the local milieu. And officials have a soft corner for these people, most of whom have harrowing stories to tell. Ranaram, who used to live in the Rahimyar district of Pakistan’s Punjab, says he fell prey to the Taliban. His wife was kidnapped, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. His two daughters were also forcibly converted. Ranaram, too, had to accept Islam for fear of his life. He thought it best to flee with his two daughters; his wife was untraceable. Dungaram, another migrant, says atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan have increased in the past two years after the ouster of Musharraf. "We won't get permanent jobs unless we convert to Islam." Hindu Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangathan, a group working for the refugees in Barmer and Jaisalmer, says there's unfortunately no proper refugee policy in India even though people from Pakistan reach here in large numbers. He said in 2004-05, over 135 families were given Indian citizenship but the rest are still living illegally in the country and are often tortured by police because they don't have proper citizenship certificates. "In December 2008, over 200 Hindus were converted to Islam in Mirpur Khas town of Pakistan. But there are several others who want to stick to their religion but there’s no safety for them in Pakistan." Immigration officer at Munabao railway station, Hetudan Charan, says the arrival of Hindu migrants had suddenly increased as over 15 to 16 families were reaching India every week. “None of them admit they are to settle here but seeing their baggage, we easily understand,’’ he said. Ravi Kumar, who was Barmer collector till his transfer two days back, said the government in 2007 had given permanent citizenship to a few Pakistani immigrants.
zaalim 1 December 2009 - 2:01pm / UK
@Jasmin What are you on about? Persecution and exodus of Hindus and Sikhs? When, where? Give me an example. On the other hand, I can give you plenty examples of the peaceful hub that you imagine India is, which it is certainly not. Remember Gujarat Massacre? Remember Ayodhya/Babri Mosque? (read the recently published inquiry report - your mainstream political party was involved - your ex prime minister was involved). Which is a bad reflection on a society or a religion? - An individual carrying out a crime (suicide bombing) in his own twisted belief or a mob being allowed by the country's police and government to dismantle an historic ancient building/mosque??? Remember the uprising of Sikhs in 1980s??? Yup that also happened in your shining India! Do you even know how many independence movements going on in India right now? More than a dozen! We have churches in Pakistan, in fact my dad went to St Paul's for his early education. I don't see any mobs raping nuns or burning down churches in Pakistan! I will remember this Swiss vote as the day Europe lost it's moral high ground. From now on I am boycotting Nestle. Why don't Swiss do a referendum to tighten laws regarding their financial institution? Dictators supported by the west are plundering and looting their Muslim populations and then transferring all the money into their Swiss accounts. Why don't the Swiss public do something about regualting their banking properly??? Huh??? I bet that won't happen though, because money has no religion!
Anonymous 1 December 2009 - 2:16pm / India
Thanks Zaalim(the name- it means cruel) for your reaction. Go and visit all the international borders with Pakistan, where they are entering India. Yes, I remember every event you have cited, in my shining India, which was a retaliation of all the acts of terrorism by fanatics. For centuries, Muslim invaders and rulers have violated India in several ways. I don't blame you for their deeds but the scars remain. I do not support the retaliations, but i also do not want a non-Muslim community to be slaughtered like dumb cattle. As for insurgency in India, if you read your daily newspapers, the groups in Pakistan are supporting them to destabilise India. It is easy talking from UK, go and see what fanaticsm has done to your fatherland and the world.---jasmin
sandrav 1 December 2009 - 1:37pm / Nederlands
anonymous, my muslim friend probably has not seen the inside of a mosque for twenty years or so, as she was only a Muslim by birth, not by choice. My friend is married outside of her faith. The same goes for me, I was born jewish and married a Christian and I am proud of it! Oh by the way, I doubt serously my friend knows any jihadist being that she doesn´t even practice her religion she was born into.
anonymous 1 December 2009 - 1:47pm / globe
Perhaps, your dear friend did not tell you the whole truth. Women are not allowed in the mosques! If she does not practice her religion, then don't call her a muslim, and do not include her refrence in this discussion.
amin 1 December 2009 - 6:46pm / netherlands
you say that women are not allowed in the mosques. This is is really the biggest crap I have ever heard. My friend: Go and visit a mosque at a friday and you will see that there are a lot of women in there. You are just telling lies and making people affraid of muslims. I don't know, maybe you have had bad experiences with some muslims and that's why you are so angry. I agree that it is a problem in SOME muslim countries if a muslim wants to convert to another religion. But people who are christian or jews from birth don't have any problems in Iran and in most of other muslim countries. I (and with me alot of muslims) condemn the fact that people are prosecuted because of their convertion and think that everyone has the right to choose its own religion. But I'm not responsible for the religious prosecution of ex-muslims and I will not accept that my religious freemdom is limited because of that. I have also a comment on Mr Rob Kiviet. He says: "Freedom of religion means: freedom to practice your religion. There is no such thing as a freedom to build towers." In a secular country, the state has not the right to tell the people how they can practice their religion or how to build their mosques or churches. Minarets are significant parts of a mosque. That's how people can recognize a mosque. So it's obvious that such an absolute ban is limting the religious freedom of muslims. And It's really sad that my minister of foreign affaires doubt this. Would he also doubt that a ban on building a church tower is against the freedom of religion!!!??
Anonymous 1 December 2009 - 8:32pm / globe
Women in Mosques Banished to basement rooms or banned from the mosque entirely. American convert to Islam, Yahya M tells it how it is... and how it should be. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If any among your women asks permission to go to the mosque, don't stop her from going. But in some Muslim societies overseas, they don't let women in the mosques. They've turned the mosques into men-only clubs, contrary to what the Prophet ordered. In North America and Britain, hard as it is to believe, too many Muslims have brought over this ignorant attitude and many mosques here don't allow women in. It's hard to understand why anybody would perpetuate such un-Islamic injustice. And among those mosques that do let women in, I'm sorry to say that most of the ones I have seen relegate the women to an inferior status. They banish them to basement rooms or other segregated spaces. Too often the second-class spaces allotted to the women are poorly maintained, uncomfortable, cramped, filthy, or otherwise substandard, while the men reserve the best areas for their exclusive use. This kind of treatment makes the preaching about women's status being equal in Islam sound awfully hollow. Too many places don't allow women any chance to speak and be heard, let alone have any say in the way the mosque is run. Too many religions throughout history have put down women and condemned them as inferior beings. A little-known fact is that Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad is the first religion to raise women's status to be equal with men. You couldn't tell that nowadays when Muslim countries are among the worst in their unjust treatment of women (especially the Taliban). Talk about ahsan al-taqwîm degenerating into asfal sâfilîn. This is a major disgrace, the best of religions for women behaving as the worst. As Malcolm X said, the fate of a nation depends on how it treats its women. http://www.islamfortoday.com/womeninmosques.htm
Aftab 15 December 2009 - 8:49pm / Saudi Arabia
Its absolute unadulterated bullshit. Prophet was a trader of women and made them his sex slaves by through various acts of terrorism. The status of woman in Islam is obvious from the fact that a woman raped is punished if she cannot provide 4 male witness to the rape/crime. Its a religion from the Dark Ages for the criminal minded and human rights abusers.
amin 1 December 2009 - 10:46pm / Netherlands
I don't really understand you. Is it the islam which is the problem or the ignorant muslims? make up your mind please!
anonymous 2 December 2009 - 4:08am / globe
Haha...Amin, no religion in the world is a problem, problem are the followers. Didn't you know this? Ok, at least, you agree that my post wasn't a crap!
Anonymous 1 December 2009 - 1:30pm / US
Replying to the first two comments,: my dear, Switzerland unlike many other nations is supposed to be more tolerant. It has been forward thinking of Swiss people that has allowed people of all religions to immigrate and practise their religion in peace. By approving this vote Swiss are being narrow minded and comparing this to Muslim nations is childish. There is a reason Western nations are considered first world countries, people migrate here from everywhere in hope of economic and religious freedom. by casting this vote Swiss are reverting to similar extremism displayed by the extreme Islamic nations.
jasmin 1 December 2009 - 11:10am / India
I expected this reply from Rob Kievit. But then, this is no solution. As I have pointed in my reaction here, they are winners in both the places and we are the losers, in both the places. Wonder if your correspondent in Pakistan has reported the persecution and exodus of Hindus and Sikhs. They are coming to India for political asylum. But such reports are never probed or published on your site, and I always wonder why! What's your reply to this, Rob?
Hiram 2 December 2009 - 5:00pm / USA
Jasmin, do you think "Rob" will responed to your question? Mr. Kievit is Jasmin right? What I hear her saying is two wrongs don't make it right. Should RNW report both sides or all sides of the newsworthy events concerning Muslims or should they not? { Sir, you don't have to respond. I know you are staying busy at the office teaching all of those interns the European, style of journalism. {Jasmin please be nice to Rob. He is only reporting what his bosses want him to report. The bosses determine what is newsworthy and the Hindus/Sikhs are not important to them.
user avatar
Rob Kievit 1 December 2009 - 10:42am / Netherlands
Thank you for your reactions. Dutch Foreign Minister Verhagen explained yesterday (30 Nov) that he wants freedoms of religion, opinion, etcetera, to be respected universally. In his view, which is widely shared, it is the duty of governments to ensure that those universal freedoms are guaranteed and applied consistently. The Dutch government's view is like this: European countries are demanding freedom of religion for the Christian minority in Turkey, for example, so Europe should be consistent by guaranteeing the same freedom of religion for the Muslim minority in Switzerland. Freedom of religion means: freedom to practice your religion. There is no such thing as a freedom to build towers. Whether people are allowed to build something is up to local town planners. Some reactions here are suggesting that Muslims in Europe should be denied religous freedom because minority Christians in Islamic countries are not allowed to practice their religion either. But "two Wrongs don't make a Right," my old schoolteacher used to say in such cases, and that applies here as well. Non-Muslims in Egypt or Saudi Arabia have hardly any religious freedom, but denying Muslims in Europe their freedom won't improve anything in Cairo or Riyadh.

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