—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
JAMAICA, New York (November 30, 2009) – The Islamic Circle of North America condemns the ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland. We are exceedingly concerned with the brazen cultivation of fear by the Swiss People’s Party and its obvious effect on the Swiss public.
The minaret has long stood as a cultural symbol of Islam, the prohibition of which is indicative of intolerance and suppression of religion. Whereas Western nations have constantly been at the forefront of the struggle for religious and civil rights, the move to ban minarets in Switzerland can only be seen as a regression in these efforts. By upholding this ban, the Swiss government will not only deny its Muslim citizens their basic religious freedoms, but also encourage those parties whose sole agenda is to sow seeds of discord amongst citizens of the world.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, president of ICNA, said in a statement, “Right wing extremism is on the rise in European media and political arenas. This is affecting public opinion and giving way to an extremely dangerous trend that has begun to threaten harmony in European, including Swiss, societies. Intolerance must be condemned by everyone, including and especially all civic, religious and political leadership in Europe.”
Religious extremism and blatant fear mongering cannot be allowed to prevail over reason and justice. Western democracies must continue to rise above these threats and remain diligent in their promotion of tolerance and understanding.
ICNA encourages political and community leaders to take a stand against this ban and to persist in their work towards the freedom of religious practice. We encourage all Europeans and European Muslims to contest this law and act as a collective voice of dissent against this deliberate act of religious discrimination.