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Ex-Diplomat: Swiss Minaret Vote Could Hurt Jews

Former Ambassador Yitzchak Meir: restrictions on Islam could lead to restrictions on Jews.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/1/2009, 8:04 PM / Last Update: 12/1/2009, 7:56 PM

Europeans have begun to comprehend the danger of Islam, former Israeli ambassador in Switzerland Yitzchak Meir said in an interview with Arutz Sheva Tuesday, following the Swiss referndum vote to outlaw minarets.

"It is surprising that on a sensitive subject like equality of rights they would ratify such a decision, especially as we are talking about basic religious rights," Meir said. "But it turns out that when you turn the decision over to a referendum, when all of the filters of diplomatic and political considerations are removed and the decision comes from the gut, then the decision is that mosques should not be built.”

"The fear of things foreign and different is what motivated them and by the way, this is not surprising,” the former diplomat explained. “Europeans are dealing with a wave of massive immigration of Muslims and Switzerland has good reason to fear strangers. It is an insulated land of mountains and valleys and cantons and this fear of strangers hurt us, the Jews, also. Before 1860, Jews were not allowed to live inside Switzerland, except inside two villages which were set aside for Jews.”

"Shechitah [Kosher slaughter] is forbidden in Switzerland,” the former ambassador noted. “The fear of strangers is in the end the basic root of anti-Semitism. They must have also feared the Jew who was so different.”

Meir told listeners that this is the first time in recent European history that a vote was held on limiting religious rights. “In this matter, we in Israel can be proud that despite the bitter blood feud we do allow free access to believers of all religions to their holy sites,” he opined.

Meir said that he was convinced that additional European states would now follow Switzerland's lead. “The decision by the Swiss nation was received with shouts of joy in Europe. In Italy and Denmark the right-wing anti-Muslim parties are happy with the decision but the European Community fears that this step could get out of hand and lead to an emotional confrontation. We as Jews should be concerned [what begins with] the limiting of religious freedom toward Muslims will eventually be turned toward us as well. Therefore we need to say that indeed, the spread of Muslims in Europe is dangerous but they should be combated through other means.”