Muslims in Switzerland have held open days in mosques across the country ahead of a controversial vote on whether to ban the construction of minarets.
The poll was called by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, who argue that a minaret is a symbol Islamic political power. Switzerland is home to some 400,000 Muslims, who have 200 mosques in which to worship. Only four have minarets. One Muslim woman welcomed the initiative: “ To me it means opening myself up to others, to tell them that we as Muslims open our doors to you. That we are here with you. Our existence is reality, but we want the reality to be enriching.” The organisers say the open day is designed to encourage dialogue and build understanding. The vote at the end of the month has provoked an emotional debate. In Zurich the authorities allowed an anti-minaret poster to be distributed by the Swiss People’s Party a move that angered the country’s anti-racist commission.