An interesting and shocking vote in Switzerland today. The Swiss people, in a referendum, have voted to ban the building of minarets in the country. The vote-forced on the Swiss by the Swiss People's Party (SVP)-a right-wing party-after collecting 100000 signatures in 18 months-comes as a shock to both the Swiss government and the country's 400000 muslims. This paves the way for a constitutional amendment.
The odd thing about this is that there are only 4 mosques in Switzerland that actually have minarets. They are a well-known feature of mosques around the world. The SVP believes that minarets represent a growing power of Islam in Switzerland and promote a sense of fear of rising Islamic fundamentalism. See the news report on Al-Jazeera in English here.
The scary thing is that now, another right wing party in Holland wants the same ban on minarets. Is this going to be a wider movement? Let's hope not. Where will it end if it does? A muslim country could therefore ban the building of churches, saying there is a threat of growing christianity in the country. Highly unlikely, but you never know.
Would this sort of thing happen in Canada? I doubt it. The Charter protects freedom of religion, and any ban on building minarets would probably be struck down as going against the multicultural fabric of the country.