Sunday, June 28, 2009

Disputed minaret near Olten inaugurated



A controversial minaret has been inaugurated at a mosque in the town of Wangen near Olten.
June 27, 2009
swissinfo.ch with agencies

Organisers said about 1,000 people took part in Saturday's festivities which took place despite a boycott by several official representatives concerned over a rise in Islamic extremism.

The president of the local Turkish culture association, Mustapha Karahan, said the minaret would promote mutual respect between Christians and Muslims.

A Methodist pastor called on Christians and Muslims to join forces to defend freedom of religion, while a centre-left politician described the minaret as a symbol of integration.

However, a senior official from federal and cantonal authorities refused to take part in the ceremony because of a controversial flag displayed at the mosque.

The construction of the minaret at Wangen took more than four years and prompted rightwing political parties to propose a nationwide ban on minarets. But no date has yet been set for the ballot.

There are currently four minarets in Switzerland, including Geneva, Zurich and Winterthur.

Plans for a minaret at Langenthal are still pending.

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