Iran urges Bern not to enforce minaret ban
(AFP) – 14 hours ago
TEHRAN — Iran warned Switzerland on Saturday of “consequences” over a referendum banning the building of new mosque minarets and urged Bern not to enforce the ban, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The vote went “against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey in a telephone call, quoted by IRNA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
Mottaki said last week’s referendum would “damage Switzerland’s image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims’ public opinion.”
“Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others’ religions should never be put to referendum,” he argued, warning Switzerland of the “consequences” of anti-Islamic acts, IRNA reported.
The foreign minister hoped the Bern government would soon “take necessary steps and find a constitutional way to prevent imposition of the ban.”
IRNA said Switzerland’s ambassador in Tehran was summoned on Saturday before the foreign ministry, which protested against the minaret ban which was backed by more than 57 percent of voters who cast their ballot on November 29.
Calmy-Rey said the referendum was carried out against the will of the Swiss government, which would “use all its means to support Muslims rights,” the IRNA report added.
The referendum on a constitutional ban on minarets was proposed by a rightwing Swiss party and had not been expected to succeed.
Besides the government, the ban was opposed by the bulk of Switzerland’s political parties as well as the economic establishment.
It drew widespread criticism from the United Nations, Muslim states, fellow European countries and the Vatican.