Zurich city council said yesterday that a poster showing missile-like minarets on a Swiss flag can be displayed ahead of a national referendum on whether to ban the building of minarets at mosques in Switzerland.
Zurich followed Lucerne and Geneva in arguing that the posters, which also feature a veiled woman with “menacing eyes”, were protected by free speech. Basel and Lausanne have banned them saying they paint a “racist, disrespectful and dangerous image” of Islam.
The posters, which urge a ban on the building of minarets, are part of a campaign by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party.
Zurich city council said it disapproved of the posters – which also feature a veiled woman with what could be seen as menacing eyes – because they portrayed Islam as “threatening, negative and dangerous”. But officials said the posters had to be accepted as part of political free speech in the run-up to the November 29 vote.
The Swiss Federal Commission Against Racism said yesterday it viewed the billboards as an attack on all Muslims in Switzerland. “This is a further step toward a dangerous polarization of the political debate,” the commission said.
The posters argue that the construction of new minarets should be banned because they are a symbol of Islamic political conquest rather than religious freedom. So far, there are four minarets in Switzerland.