UN rights chief slams Swiss ban on minarets

16:51, December 02, 2009      

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The United Nations' top human rights official on Tuesday criticized a Swiss ban on building Muslim minarets, saying the measure was "clearly discriminatory."

Such a ban is "discriminatory, deeply divisive and a thoroughly unfortunate step for Switzerland to take, and risks putting the country on a collision course with its international human rights obligations," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

In a referendum held on Sunday, Swiss voters approved an initiative launched by right-wing and ultra-conservative groups to ban the construction of new minarets. The Swiss government was strongly opposed to the initiative but it had to respect the result of the vote.

"I hesitate to condemn a democratic vote, but I have no hesitation at all in condemning the anti-foreigner scare-mongering that has characterized political campaigns in a number of countries, including Switzerland, which helps produce results likethis," Pillay said.

She noted that politics based on xenophobia or intolerance "is extremely disquieting, wherever it occurs."

"It is corrosive, and -- beyond a certain point -- can become socially disruptive and even dangerous," she added.

Source: Xinhua
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