Update 23 December 07:55 Bern, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) – Switzerland’s Muslim community and the Swiss minister in charge of the Federal Department of Justice and Police met Monday 21 December to discuss the implications of the recent vote to ban new minarets. Federal councilor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told the group that Bern is determined to improve relations with the Muslim community. A first meeting took place in September, before the vote.
The government and three representative Muslim organizations have agreed to meet again, this time to analyze the situation and to discuss concrete measures.
Widmer-Schlumpf notes that the country’s recent vote to ban the building of minarets is a restriction of Swiss Muslims’ freedom to express their religion, but stresses that it does not limit their right to profess their faith.
The three groups, the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland, the Coordination Islamic Organizations of Switzerland the Inter-Knowing Foundation said that they accept the decision of the people, expressed in the vote 29 November. Swissinfo, in a lengthy feature, interviews one of the representatives of the Muslim community who participated in Monday’s meeting, Farhad Afshar, president of the Coordination of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland. He told swissinfo that the meetings could provide a means to for communities and Muslims to find solutions for several unresolved problems that include training imams, finding appropriate places to build mosques and prayer houses, permitting country-wide burials according to Islamic rights.