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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)

Screw Iran!

Where did this term " Muslim " come from. It is very insulting. How come the medial keeps using this silly term whenever they are supporting Islam. Here is the problem - loud speakers and minarets all over residential areas is an overt cultural agression that noone should tolerate. Next it will be Shira law. Don't they want to conver the world? They have said many times that is their aim.
It all makes my skin crawl. How do we Americans protect our culture.

Iran making such a statement about respecting human rights seems beyond hypocritical. Although, I think the Swiss are going too far, given their outlook on democrocy and human rights as stated by Iran. In the end, Iran should respect the rights of the Swiss to govern their nation, as is their response when others attempt to tell Iran how to govern.

This is exactly why these should not be allowed to be built!

How dare Iran make threats against another country.

This isn't a Muslim country and to immigrate there and then to threaten your host and it's traditions and lifestyle...well, that is totally unacceptable.

What about the Baha'i religion?! They're the largest minority religion in Iran, they have no official rights because of their religion, and are constantly being harassed without consequence by the Iranian government.

Mottaki has absolutely no basis to complain about a democratic ban on a type of architecture.


If I were to invite you into MY, and your family, cousins, aunts, etc. and you began to redecorate and redesign MY 'personal space'.....I'd get a little pizzt-off too!

Why not just..stay home and redesign and improve YOUR OWN place (for a change!)

Thank you!

Iran is not one to lecture Switzerland. Churches are technically allowed to be built but they never are. The punishment for conversion to Christianity is death. Get real, Switzerland is a Christian country--that so far has not killed muslims for being muslim. Imams spread hate and intolerance in Arabic, so not to be understood by their hosts, and then act with the sense entitlement they learn from the west to make demands in the name of "tolerance". This "tolerance" is really only an egoistic desire to gain as much ground as they possibly can at the expense of us filthy infidels.

Wonder how many "Christian" steeples a "Muslim" country would allow. It's really interesting how we "bow" down to those that are willing to destroy "infidels".

And this is why most countries/people have so many reservations regarding Muslims. It seems if they don't get what they want they have no problem threatening anyone/thing that gets in their way.

Iran has no business influencing what Swiss Citizens choose to do in their own country. A referendum against future construction should be honored - if there is a religious group affected....then they are free to relocate to another country that welcomes their particular sect. Non-Muslims are segregated in countries like Saudi Arabia - I'm pretty sure that if you are a non-Muslim foreigner and you attempt to travel in Iran - you will not have the freedoms and ability to travel unrestricted as is afforded Iranian Citizens travelling outside of their country to destinations all over the world. No reciprosity there!! I'd like to know how many Christian Churches or Jewish Synagogues exist in Iran??? NOT.

How about if we allow one minaret to be placed anywhere in exchange for the rebuilding of each Christian church that has been purposely destroyed by Muslims elsewhere.

Would that be fair?

Within the realms of democracy, the winning vote wins the day, as to whatever it pertains to. Our nation, as well as others, are very careful as to the language they use when dealing with all this terrorism. They may state that we are at war with the Taliban, and their radical beliefs, but they carefully guard themselves from saying that we are at war with the Koran , which promotes a murderous agenda, and is indeed a religion of reprobate rot. Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, well stated: Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do, he was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth. / Except for the writings of Moses which they embrace, the rest of the Koran was written by a false deceived devil possessed false prophet who was a child molesting fiend, with all of his underaged wives. Mohammed could not read nor write, and he himself thought that he was possessed as he would have epileptic attacks and see all these visions. How demonically deceived these people are who believe any of his nit-wit-nonsense. There is none other name under heaven given amongs men whereby we might be saved, except the Lord Jesus Christ. Wake up people, we are fighting against that portion of the Koran that a devil possessed mohammed dictated to someone to write, and all these dupes have fallen for. Will this comment be published, probably not, because there is to much truth here for the masses to digest.

Get over it Iran...
while you murder Christians and burn down their churches..
Take care of your Islamic extremists or at least help us
rid the world of all extremists.. then maybe nobody will
care about your minuets...

What an irony that an Iranian government which oppresses its own people speaks in favour of Muslims in Switzerland. Muslims who live in Switzerland have much more right than Muslims in Iran and many other Islamic countries.
Islam is not only a religion but also a philosophy, but Iranian regime instead of giving freedom to their own people and a chance to fully develop their intellectual capabilities is using religion to oppress and control their minds.
Just a few weeks before the whole world has seen how they had treated members of the opposition and young people who were desperate to regain their freedom and now the same dictatorship is fighting for Muslim rights in a foreign country!?
As I understand as a Muslim, hypocrisy and manipulation are also a sin!

Isn't there a ban on building churches in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.? What goes around comes around. Oh by the way can we bild a church in Mecca since this is such a tolerant religion.

Iran and Muslim extremism is the reason that the Minarets got banned. And their threats don't help improve their reputation either.

I think it takes a lot of effort to make the Swiss give up on equality. Congrats Iran; you finally did it.

The first sentence of this post is all wrong:
"An East-West clash over a Swiss referendum last week banning the construction of mosque minarets..." To act as though this is a matter that has divided a unified "West" against a unified "East" is sophistry at best and sensationalism at worst. Two interesting aspects of this are indicated in a rather reasoned editorial on the Saudi-run Arabnews website, "Minaret Message to Muslims in Europe." []

The Iranians are on slightly firmer ground speaking about religious freedom than the Saudis (Khamenhi is still more interested in jailing political dissidents as opposed to non-Shia), but the Saudis are being rather cautious on their reaction, given their own laws regarding those who are not only non-Muslim, but non-Sunni. And, while minarets are banned, mosques are not. To anyone who is familiar with the idiosyncracies of Swiss politics, this vote should not come as a shock. This is a country that has a highly restrictive immigration policy and three official languages. They are progressive on gender issues, yet did not require cantons to allow women to vote until 1970. All of this will soon blow over, just like the cartoon issue two years back.

of course, the iranian government has driven every last jew and almost every last christian out of the iran while operating a mohammedan theocracy bent on controlling everything according to what they think they want mohammedism to mean. bravo switzerland, at least you can talk about things and cast a real and meaningful vote.

Iran should shut the **** up!. I think it is about time the west take on this archaic hypocrite! I have always been one to say leave Iran alone; let those people fight for what they want or fight to keep what they have. Now they are threatening US citizens and residents telling them what they can and cannot say?? And then telling the Swiss how to run their affairs? The nerve. Who the **** do they think they are? How dare they meddle in other peoples business when they were just complaining about the west meddling in their politricks of an election? I think we should now finally tell them if they harm one, just one of our citizens in any way or form, they have just declared war and should be punished swiftly and immediately. I cannot imagine me at this stage now thinking nuking that government! What a set of tyrant!

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