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Daily Israel Report

European Rabbis Against Swiss Ban on Mosque Minarets

European rabbis object to the Swiss referendum vote that banned minarets on mosques: “War on religious freedom will not defeat Muslim extremism.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/3/2009, 12:50 PM / Last Update: 12/3/2009, 1:19 PM

Israel news photo

The head of the Conference of European Rabbis objects to the decision by Swiss citizens to ban minarets on Muslim mosques. "A war on religious freedom cannot defeat Islamic extremism,” he explained.

Rabbi Pinchas Dunner, executive director of the Conference, added that the best weapons against radical Islam are “support for moderates in the Muslim community and promoting dialogue among different faiths.”

Fifty-seven percent of Swiss voters and a majority of the country’s cantons supported Sunday’s referendum proposal. Backers of the ban said the minaret is symbol of fundamental Islam that is encroaching on the life of Europeans.

Italy may follow suit with a referendum of its own, according to Roberto Caldeoli, leader of that country's conservative Northern League party. “Respect for other religions is important, but we must put the brakes on Muslim propaganda or else we will end up with an Islamic political party,” he said.

Catholic Supports Ban
A prominent Catholic figure from Moscow, where the European rabbis are holding their bi-annual conference, disagreed with the rabbis and supported the ban.

"The issue of minarets is not an issue of religious freedom," Father Filaret told Interfax, "but an issue of political presence of people of a certain faith and ethnic background in a country. Taking into account a rapid rate of Islamization, visible signs of Muslims' presence would have, in particular, a political tint."