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Switzerland: Swiss Upper House rejects foreign fund ban on mosques

1st Jun 2018
Switzerland: Swiss Upper House rejects foreign fund ban on mosques

By Bayram Altug

GENEVA (AA & The Local): The Upper House of Switzerland on Tuesday rejected a bill prohibiting foreign funding to mosques affiliated with the Swiss Turkish Religious Foundation.

The motion had been put forward by Lorenzo Quadri, a senator for the right-wing Ticino League party in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.

With the motion, Quadri had targeted some 35 mosques and Islamic centres in Switzerland reportedly funded by the Turkish government.

Following discussions, the Upper House rejected the bill with 29 “No” votes against seven “Yes” votes, with four abstentions, which had narrowly passed through the lower house Council of States.

The Upper House said it was unfair to impose any restrictions without granting rights to Muslims.

The proposal, modelled on rules already in place in Austria, would also have seen imams required to preach in a Swiss national language while compelling Islamic centres to disclose the origin of any funding.

But Switzerland’s seven-member Federal Council had said the motion was discriminatory and rejected the comparison with Austria saying rules in that country came in the context of bolstered official recognition for Austria’s Muslims.

The Swiss executive noted, however, that no Swiss canton had officially recognised Islam and it was unfair to impose rules without offering rights. Green senator Robert Cramer also noted the motion could impinge on religious freedoms and the right to free assembly.

[Photo: Mosque of the Olten Turkish cultural association at Wangen bei Olten. By Nadf/Public Domain]

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