Mumbai: Religious scholars and
intellectuals Thursday condemned the Swiss government's recent ban
on minarets of mosques in their country and decided to approach the
United Nations and Amnesty International in the matter.
The religious scholars, including Hindu and Christian priests,
demanded that the ban on the minarets be lifted in order to protect
and promote religious diversity and multi-culturalism in
Switzerland, according to Sahyog Cultural Society chairman Sami
"The minarets of mosques are symbols of peace, but unfortunately
some anti-Islamic forces have displayed them as symbols of fear. The
ban on minarets by the Swiss government is yet another instance of
Islamophobia that has gripped the west," Bubere said.
With this, the Swiss government "has hurt the sentiments" of a large
number of peace-loving people who had great faith in the right to
practice the religious of their choice in Europe.
"Such actions would only serve to vitiate the already tense
atmosphere and encourage religious disharmony and distrust," he
noted, addressing the Inter-Faith conference.
In November 2009, the Swiss government had banned the construction
of minarets in Muslim mosques after conducting a referendum. The
ban, however, would not affect the only four existing mosques in
that country - in Zurich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen Bie Olten.
Addressing the meet, chief guest Chaturvedi Swami Maharaj, head of
Chennai-based Ramanuja Mission Trust, said that for the past few
years, Muslims and Islam as a whole have been blamed for terror,
mainly owing to the misdeeds of a few misguided individuals.
"The time has come to unleash the positive potential of religions
which cannot be accomplished unless dogmatic and intolerant forces
are annihilated," he urged.
Fr. Sebastian Michael, a professor of Mumbai University, deplored
the Swiss government's decision which would only add to the rift
between religions and termed it as "a needless, harmful measure
which should not have been taken in the first place".
All India Ulema Council president Maulana Hafiz Syed Athar Ali
appreciated the efforts by the all-religious gathering of scholars
and intellectuals which would strengthen the inter-faith unity.
Other prominent personalities who participated in the even included
Ameen Patel, Yusuf Muchhala, Zahir Kazi, Parvati Khan, Zeenat
Shaukat Ali, Munisa Bushra Abidi, Puneet Chaturvedi, Edward Yazdi,
and S.S. Ahuja.
The meeting also passed a resolution which would be submitted to the
Maharashtra government, Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of
External Affairs, the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi and its consulate
in Mumbai, Bubere said.