“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," said Farhad Afshar, who heads the Coordination of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland.
Elsewhere in the Muslim world, reactions are even stronger. For the grand mufti of Egypt, the result is an “insult” to Muslims around the world. “This proposal [. . .] is not considered just an attack on freedom of beliefs, but also an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside Switzerland,” Gomaa said.
Still, many have called for calm. Maskuri Abdillah, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim group, spoke about “hatred” and “intolerance”. The vote for him is a sign of the “hatred of Swiss people against Muslim communities. They don't want to see a Muslim presence in their country and this intense dislike has made them intolerant." Still, he urged Muslims in his country “to show them tolerance and freedom of religion”.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said he was confident that “the people of Switzerland will reach the best consensus and will take the best decision,” and overturn the ban.
At the level of media, we find a variety of responses. Al Jazeera spoke of a “shocking result”. Quoting an analyst, the satellite TV said, “It was because people are worried about the growth of Islam in Europe.”
For the Tehran Times, it is a case of rising “Islamophobia in Europe and violation of religious freedom and convention commitments.
An Iranian TV channel said that everyone condemned the Swiss Islamophobic vote, noting that the Swiss government slammed the ban.
Similarly, Lebanon’s Nahar newspaper as well as Hizbollah’s al Manar TV channel noted that Christians also expressed dismay over the outcome, stressing that it was "inadmissible that the religious minority” is now “to subject to unequal treatment.” The Kuwait Times agrees.
Nahar also reported that religious groups, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, have come out in a rare show of unity against the right-wing proposal. (PD)