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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Switzerland minaret ban challenged in Europe rights court
Jaclyn Belczyk at 12:13 PM ET

[JURIST] The lawyer for a Swiss Muslim said Wednesday that his client has filed a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] challenging Switzerland's recent vote to ban the construction of minarets [JURIST report]. Hafid Ouardiri, a former spokesman at the Geneva Mosque, alleges [Reuters report] that the ban violates his rights to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination under Articles 9, 13, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The ECHR could take up to 18 months to decide whether to hear Ouardiri's complaint, and then it could be several more years before the court rules on the merits.

Last week, a group of Swiss intellectuals called for [JURIST report] the ban's reversal. Swiss Supreme Court President Lawrence Meyer also said [NZZ report, in German] last week that two suits have been filed in federal court challenging the ban's legality. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] has condemned the ban [JURIST report] as a form of religious discrimination. Last year, the Swiss government announced [JURIST report] that Swiss nationalist parties had gathered enough signatures on their initiative against the construction of minarets [initiative website, in French] to force a national referendum on whether the country's constitution should be amended to ban the structures. The initiative was originally sponsored by the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) [party website].

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