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IRAN: Outrage, and a warning, over Swiss vote to ban minarets

An East-West clash over a Swiss referendum last week banning the construction of mosque minarets heated up today as Iran's foreign minister warned of unspecified "consequences" if the ban were enforced.

Manouchehr Mottaki spoke on the phone with his Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey. Switzerland and Iran generally have good relations. The Swiss serve as Washington's representative in the Iranian capital in the absence of formal relations between America and the Islamic Republic, giving them exalted status in Tehran's diplomatic circles.

But Mottaki had harsh words for Switzerland, saying enforcement of the ban on new minarets was “against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights" and would "damage Switzerland’s image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims' public opinion," according to a report by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA.

The Swiss ban on minarets, a feature of Islamic mosques, has roiled the Muslim world. The Swiss government has said it would abide by the vote even though the government and parliament had opposed the referendum. 

Iran's population is 90% Shiite Muslim. But it permits construction of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, though some Sunni Muslims have complained they have a tough time building houses of worship in some parts of the country. 

“Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others' religions should never be put to referendum,” Mottaki told his Swiss counterpart. He expressed hope that Bern would soon “take necessary steps and find a constitutional way to prevent imposition of the ban.” 

An Iranian cleric today also condemned the minaret ban. Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamadani, said the move was "at odds with the protection of Muslim citizens' civil rights and will hurt the feelings of Muslims across the world," according to Iran's state television. 

Calmy-Rey told Mottaki her government would "use all its means to support Muslims rights," according to IRNA.

-- Borzou Daragahi in New York

Photo: A minaret stands illuminated over the Khadija mosque in Berlin. Credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (192)

This will be inevitably uplifted. This law is intruding on Freedom of Religion and most of all, hurts feelings.

Christian churches are not allowed in Iran. Christians are hunted and prosecuted. The only religion that can be advertised is Islam. Christians have to meet like in 2000 year old Rome: In caves and cellars!
It is not even allowed to import a Bible or a Crucifix.
Similar laws exist in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen.
A few years ago a man was sentenced by Iran's revolutionary court to death because he was in possession of a picture showing him praying the rosary. Ignoring all international protests he was hung!
This "religion" is everything but tolerant. It exploits the tolerance of the western countries to expand and conquer. Hearing them talking about human rights, freedom of religion and tolerance is unbounded cheek.

Can anybody follow any other religion except Islam within Iran's soil? You may get the death sentence if you do. They have any moral right to speak in this context.

Please the government of Iran is one of the most hypocritical country's in the world, they need to turn and look at the themselves first before judging others. Same with Muslims they always have an opinion of what others are doing but never stop and take a look at their own selves.

I wonder what would happen if you tried to erect hundreds of Christian churches throughout Iran?

They certainly do worse than to merely ban steeples.

What would the reaction be if radical Christians began emigrating to Iran.? If these emigrants had protests where they chanted death to prominent Muslims and to other primarily Muslim countries? I am not a religious person and will not get involved in the Muslim Christian Jew war. I am sick and tired of this decades long Jihad and the demonstrations chanting death to America . I don't understand the tactics of the Jihadist they certainly are not inspiring compassion or tolerance. The Muslim religion has been infiltrated by a violent cancer and those of us on the outside are growing weary trying to walk the morally correct path. Correcting this problem will not be done by Europe or the Americas it is a Muslim matter and will only truly be corrected by Muslims. I am an citizen of the USA and I will continue to strive to be tolerant. I suspect that I am not alone as I watch the tolerance and compassion slowly evaporate with constant exposure to hate filled Jihad.

this would be a good propisition for CA to pass.

Perhaps the Swiss could threaten to reveal the details of the billions of dollars of personal wealth of the corrupt Iranian leadership.

This from the country that sent murder squads around the world to kill an author and the people publishing his book

So can I build a church in Tehran then? The intolerance comes from Islam not from the tolerant west. The Swiss are a small country clearly worried about its own culture being swamped by another. Iran and Islam should respect the Swiss for preserving their identity as we respect Islam for preserving its own.

WAHHHHHHHHH! This whine brought to you by the most repressive regime in the world, who are also the top financiers of terrorism in the world. The Iranian regime can't even begin to understand the concept of "tolerance".

The Iranian regime is posturing because they hope to distract from the human and religious rights abuses going on in their own country. What you and other newspapers giving space to the minaret story should be writing about is the imprisonment and torture of freedom seekers in Iran by their own government. Hundreds of thousands to millions of brave Iranians (largely students) have risked their lives marching in the streets of Iran to peacefully protest the hijacking of their democracy. They will be doing so again on this coming Monday the 7th of December. It is likely that once again many will be beaten, imprisoned, and tortured in an effort to silence the dissent. Intimidation has not worked so far and hearing the determined voices it seems it will not work now either. That should be the real story.

It is forbidden to build a Bahai temple in Iran. The ayatollahs are hypocrites.

So let me get this straight, Iran is threatening the Swiss because they dont like gaudy muslim towers with a yelling guy on top lowering property value?

And let's not forget the hypocrisy involved. Everytime non-muslim countries say "why no, you can't subvert our culture" to muslims, the muslims cry and threaten to make violence, while ignoring just how badly muslim countries treat non-Muslims.

It is also no secret that many muslims view minarets as a sign of muslim dominance. The Swiss are simply defending their homeland as they have always done. This time it is against creeping Islamicisation and sharia law, and all the fun that goes along with those.

Their religion isn't just a religion, it's also a political rule/governing body. Also there is no middle ground, since their religion is their government they expect it to be in control of all aspects of life. Essentially seeking to have either a seperate islamic government they follow or having islamic control of the current government. While I feel that freedom to follow a religion is a basic right I also feel that the use of a state religion such as islam under the guise of religion of the individual is wrong. There is no way I could believe these small installments of islam in the state to be anything other than the eventual takeover of the state.

Am I intolerant? Perhaps. But ask yourself what I am intolerant of. Here is a video which put that into words far better than I can:
From (0:00 to 2:44) is the part I agree with. After that he gets a little out there.

Iran only wants the Swiss to hold the same type of "voting" that we have seen in Iran.

Iran does not tolerate Christianity- it persecutes Christians, and indeed all who are not Shiite - though the level of persecution varies. Iran has nothing to fear from Christians in the country.

But the West should be afraid of the influx of Muslims into Europe. Militant Islam will try to take over Western Europe, just as it is taking over Lebanon, and seeks to take over Israel.

Switzerland hasn't gone far enough - Moslems should be banned from entering the country.

What the muslims expect when since 1969 we have been terrorized by the radicals who kidnapped planes, have blown up people or when we are not able to travel or enter an hotel without being searched toroughly. Even having an opinion about muslim religion is not allowed or they will kill us for it. When the world will wake up and say they have enough of the radical religion which reigns with oppresion and fear over their own and other people. I am a regular traveler to muslim countries for the last 20 years.

Clerics are not supposed to be outraged in western religions. I think the same religious tolerance would be a pleasant surprise to the world. The tolerant people in the world are not going to be fooled by this pseudo religion masquerading as a message from God. The violence from the mosques is real, it is time for moderate Muslims to step forth with a message of humanity.

Who cares what Iran thinks about Religious Freedom and human rights?

Try being a Christian or woman there for a few days.

I'd like to see someone go to Iran and try to build a church. Or even hold a church service.

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