Following the Swiss referendum banning minarets, the debate has spread to neighbouring France where Islam is the second biggest religion.
Compared to Switzerland’s four minarets, France has around a dozen. Dalil Boubakeur, head of the main Paris mosque, said: “We don’t see how minarets can be seen as a symbol of anything but the place where people go and pray. What we must look at is who runs a mosque? Who are the people who go there? What is said inside the mosque and by which Imam? The problem lies with the training of Imams and knowing how to respect the spirit of Islam. They need to not stray outside their role defined by the law of the country.” In Strasbourg last week the finishing elements were added to a new mosque but there was no minaret. The Swiss ban may be challenged at Strasbourg in the European Court of Human Rights by the Swiss Green Party, for violating religious freedoms.