Muslims to protest ban as Switzerland blocks German imam
A German Islamic preacher who aimed to speech in big protest against minaret ban was blocked to entry to Switzerland.
World Bulletin / News Desk
Swiss Muslims are preparing for a big protest against minaret ban as authorities blocked a Germam imam's entry to the much-criticised European country.
Swiss authorities stopped an Islamic preacher at the German border late on Friday to prevent him speaking at a rally against Switzerland's ban on building new minarets, local press reported.
Pierre Vogel, a German national, had been due to attend an Islamic rally in the Swiss capital Berne on Saturday afternoon against a ban on the construction of new minarets, which Switzerland voted for two weeks ago in a referendum.
Vogel tried to cross into Switzerland by car near Basel at about 2230 local time (2130 GMT) on Friday but was refused entry and forced to return to Germany, Reuters quoted daily newspaper Blick.
Local news agency SDA confirmed the report, citing Basel border authority spokesman Markus Zumbach, who said Vogel had been banned from entering the country by the government.
Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets two weeks ago, a surprise result which has provoked condemnation across the Muslim world, European neighbours and the United Nations.
Vogel objected to not being allowed into Switzerland but cooperated with border guards and signed the order banning his entry into the country. He then returned to Germany, while two other accompanying cars continued into Switzerland.
The Basel border authorities were not immediately available to comment on Saturday.
Growing reactions to minaret ban
The United Nations last week denounced Switzerland's constitutional ban on building minarets as deeply divisive, clearly discriminatory and violates the the country's obligations under international law.
OIC Ambassadors in Genova Group sent a letter to the Swiss government saying that the ban was an unequivocal attack on an Islamic symbol and would only contribute to the anti-Islam sentiment and intolerance against muslims, particularly in Switzerland.
It said the ban was a clear violation of the international laws on freedom of expression and religious freedoms recognised by Switzerland, underlining the danger of this tendency spreading to other areas.
Club Helvetique, a group of over 20 Swiss intellectuals, will draw up an action plan to overturn the ban, which has drawn widespread criticism abroad and prompted hundreds of people to take to the streets this weekend in Zurich, Basel and Berne.
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said the Iranian government had summoned the Swiss ambassador to explain the situation.
Switzerland, a country of 7.7 million, is home to more than 300,000 Muslims, mainly from Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey, but has just four minarets.
Earlier, Greens group leader of the European Parliament called wealthy Muslims to withdraw their money from banks in Switzerland in response to the ban.
"Switzerland's problem is the egoism of the riches. Switzerland has accustomed us to this attitude. I think about the World War 2. There was no problem for Switzerland to sacrifice people who wanted to took refuge and asylum in the country."
Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2009, 18:53