Swiss media say that exit polls appear to show a 59% yes vote for banning the construction of new minarets on mosques. However, a definitive result will be known later today.
The populist Swiss People’s Party put forward the proposal – Switzerland has four mosques minarets with two more planned. Both the Swiss government and parliament had rejected the initiative as violating the Swiss constitution, freedom of religion and the nation’s cherished tradition of tolerance. Switzerland is home to some 400,000 muslims, only one in eight of whom actively practice their religion. Surveys in the run up to the ballot indicated that 53% of voters opposed the ban. However, support has grown in the last few weeks with women’s groups campaigning for the initiative, emphasising what they perceive as the way Muslims treat women.