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Inter-faith meet condemns Swiss mosque minarets ban

Thursday, January 14, 2010 09:54:27 PM, IANS

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Mumbai: Religious scholars and intellectuals Thursday condemned the Swiss government's recent ban on minarets of mosques in their country and decided to approach the United Nations and Amnesty International in the matter.


The religious scholars, including Hindu and Christian priests, demanded that the ban on the minarets be lifted in order to protect and promote religious diversity and multi-culturalism in Switzerland, according to Sahyog Cultural Society chairman Sami Bubere.


"The minarets of mosques are symbols of peace, but unfortunately some anti-Islamic forces have displayed them as symbols of fear. The ban on minarets by the Swiss government is yet another instance of Islamophobia that has gripped the west," Bubere said.


With this, the Swiss government "has hurt the sentiments" of a large number of peace-loving people who had great faith in the right to practice the religious of their choice in Europe.


"Such actions would only serve to vitiate the already tense atmosphere and encourage religious disharmony and distrust," he noted, addressing the Inter-Faith conference.


In November 2009, the Swiss government had banned the construction of minarets in Muslim mosques after conducting a referendum. The ban, however, would not affect the only four existing mosques in that country - in Zurich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen Bie Olten.


Addressing the meet, chief guest Chaturvedi Swami Maharaj, head of Chennai-based Ramanuja Mission Trust, said that for the past few years, Muslims and Islam as a whole have been blamed for terror, mainly owing to the misdeeds of a few misguided individuals.


"The time has come to unleash the positive potential of religions which cannot be accomplished unless dogmatic and intolerant forces are annihilated," he urged.


Fr. Sebastian Michael, a professor of Mumbai University, deplored the Swiss government's decision which would only add to the rift between religions and termed it as "a needless, harmful measure which should not have been taken in the first place".


All India Ulema Council president Maulana Hafiz Syed Athar Ali appreciated the efforts by the all-religious gathering of scholars and intellectuals which would strengthen the inter-faith unity.


Other prominent personalities who participated in the even included Ameen Patel, Yusuf Muchhala, Zahir Kazi, Parvati Khan, Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Munisa Bushra Abidi, Puneet Chaturvedi, Edward Yazdi, and S.S. Ahuja.


The meeting also passed a resolution which would be submitted to the Maharashtra government, Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi and its consulate in Mumbai, Bubere said.







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