Frequently asked questions

The Federal Council respects the democratic decision of the people of Switzerland. Both the Federal Council and the majority of the Swiss federal parliament rejected the initiative right from the start and recommended the people to vote against it. The Swiss electorate did not follow this recommendation.
The decision of the people is not a rejection of the Muslim community, their religion and their culture. The Federal Council vouches for this.

Only the construction of minarets will be banned in Switzerland. Those already in existence will not be affected. Mosques and Muslim prayer houses are also not affected by the initiative. There will be no ban on the construction and use of the latter in the future either.

The ban on the construction of minarets is not a ban on religion. Muslims in Switzerland will continue in the future to have the freedom to profess their faith in Islam and to practise their religion. The free expression of religious belief remains guaranteed for all religions.

The decision of the Swiss people is an expression of prevailing fears and uncertainties which must be taken seriously. Such fears can only be addressed and countered through clarification and a process of enabling the different population groups get to know and understand each other better. For this reason, it is important to actively pursue and strengthen the dialogue between the different religious communities.
The large majority of Muslims in Switzerland are well integrated into Swiss society; its members fulfil their obligations and contribute to peaceful co-existence, and for this reason they merit respect and tolerance. This decision must not be allowed to lead to mutual distrust and exclusion. We must further pursue the dialogue between the different religions and population groups.

This democratically taken decision must be respected and implemented. It will now be necessary to clarify how the new constitutional provision can be brought into harmony with international jurisdiction.
The Federal Council will continue to stand for an open and tolerant Switzerland. In the future, it will strengthen its commitment to promoting dialogue between the different populations groups and for the peaceful co-existence of communities of different faiths.

A minaret is a type of tower that is built next to or as part of a mosque. The appearance and size of minarets can vary quite considerably from region to region. Not all are built in the easily recognisable Ottoman style. The minaret indicates a place where Muslims can practise their religion. Islamic scriptures make as little mention of minarets as Christian doctrine does of church towers. As a result, many mosques have no minaret at all. Just as church towers are a familiar part of their religion for Christians, Muslims regard minarets as an architectural symbol of their faith.

In Switzerland there are currently four minarets, in Geneva, Zurich, Winterthur and Wangen by Olten. In Langenthal, the construction of a minaret was approved in early July 2009. An appeal against this decision is currently pending before the authorities in the Canton of Bern.

In many Islamic countries this is what happens, but where there are minarets in Switzerland, it does not. In Zurich, Geneva and Winterthur, where there are also minarets, no call to prayer is made by a muezzin or loudspeaker that is perceptible outside the mosque. In Wangen by Olten and in Langenthal, planning permission for a minaret was granted on condition that there would be no call to prayer by a muezzin or loudspeaker. Conditions such as these may be imposed as part of the procedure for obtaining planning permission, because minarets, like other buildings, are subject to the noise limits that apply under private law, cantonal building and planning regulations, and the the legislation on environmental protection.

No. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that a blanket ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland could have any favourable influence on public security in the country. People who act overtly or covertly against the political or social order in Switzerland or who campaign for a different legal system, such as Sharia, will not be deterred by a ban on minarets. Other measures are required in order to combat Islamic extremist efforts effectively and to protect Switzerland’s democratic and constitutional principles. The Confederation and the cantons have the required means and use it consistently. For example, Islamic preachers who oppose our legal system or social order face immediate expulsion or are not allowed to enter the country.

No. Everyone living in Switzerland must abide by our legal system. In our country the only valid law is that enacted by the state and not Sharia or any other system of religious principles. Muslims are not entitled to invoke religious law in justification of the evasion of official duties or the disregard of official regulations.

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