From The Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
Turkish Parliament speaker speaks out against Swiss ban
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Sahin voiced his opposition to the Swiss ban on minarets on Wednesday, saying that it was wrong to put a basic freedom to a vote.
His remarks came during a meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, in Parliament.
“In fact, it should have been expressed more loudly before the referendum that such a basic right cannot be the focus of a referendum. What were we going to discuss if the ‘yes’ vote emerged from the referendum instead of ‘no’ vote?” Sahin said. “Were we going to say, ‘Such a basic right cannot be the focus of a referendum’? I believe it is necessary to pursue a consistent policy toward this issue.”
The referendum put forth by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party labeled minarets as symbols of rising Muslim political power that could one day transform Switzerland into an Islamic nation. The initiative was approved 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent on Sunday.
“As far as I can see, Swiss government officials are also uneasy. The [Swiss] justice minister pointed to the European Court of Human Rights,” said ?ahin, hoping the situation, which worries Muslims living in Switzerland, would be corrected in the future.
The Finnish parliament speaker said this was not a usual issue for Finland, which believes that human rights and the freedom of expression should be respected. Such an issue cannot be submitted to a vote in Finland, he said.
In an interview with private broadcaster NTV, Swiss Ambassador to Turkey Raimund Kunz said the referendum result was a decision made by the Swiss people, not by the state. He made clear that the Swiss government was against the initiative and called on voters to say “no” in the referendum.
“This is not a vote against Islam and Muslims,” he was quoted as saying. “This is not a vote against their religion and praying. There are mosques in Switzerland. Muslims will be able to perform what their religion requires. This will not change in the future.”
The ambassador said the reactions would not cause the Swiss government to change its foreign policy, making clear that their policy of dialogue with Muslim countries would continue.
“I understand Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reactions,” he said. “I hope we’ll continue our dialogue with Turkey.”
On Tuesday, Erdogan spoke out against the ban, calling it a reflection of increasing racist and extreme nationalist waves in Europe.
Meanwhile, as the Turkish Prime Minister likens the ban to European intolerance and extreme nationalism…………