GENEVA – A Muslim appeal against a ban imposed on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland was rejected on Friday, July 8, by the European Court of Human Rights, saying that the plaintiffs were not victims of an alleged human rights violation.
“The main complaint was that a disputed constitutional provision offended their religious beliefs,” the court statement cited by Swiss Info news agency said on Friday.
“However, they did not allege that it had had any practical effect on them.”
The lawsuit was first filed in December 2009 by a former spokesman for a Geneva mosque and several Swiss Muslim groups.
The Strasbourg-based court on Friday announced that the complaints by the applicants were not admissible as the plaintiffs failed to show how the ban had harmed their human rights.
The applicants could not prove either that they were indirect victims because none of them was planning on building a mosque with a minaret in Switzerland in the near future, it added.
The controversial ban was enforced through a referendum called for by the far-right Swiss People Party.
After 57 percent of the voters agreed on the proposal, article 72, paragraph 3 was introduced in the Federal Constitution to bar the construction of minarets nationwide.
According to the CIA Factbook, Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims, representing 5 percent of the country’s nearly eight million people.
There are nearly 160 mosques and prayer rooms in Switzerland, mainly in disused factories and warehouses.
Only four of them have minarets, none of them used to raise the Azan, the call to prayer, which is banned.