30 Nov 2009

Swiss voters support ban on minarets

9:26 pm on 30 November 2009

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, according to official results.

More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban, the BBC reports.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland's image, particularly in the Muslim world.

The BBC reports the surprise result is bad news for the Swiss government which also fears unrest among the Muslim community. Voters worried about rising immigration - and with it the rise of Islam - have ignored the government's advice.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the result reflected fear of Islamic fundamentalism.

Opponents say a ban would amount to discrimination and that the ballot has stirred up hatred.