Source: Brisbane Times
Switzerland confronted an international backlash and charges of intolerance on Monday as the country's Muslim leaders urged calm over a shock vote to ban new minarets.
The Vatican joined Muslim leaders in expressing dismay after a referendum on Sunday voted for a constitutional ban on the construction of towers attached to mosques from where the faithful are traditionally called to prayer.
Some 57.5 percent of those who cast ballots supported the measure amid a high turnout by Swiss standards of 53 percent.
The result flew in the face of opinion polls that had predicted a 'no' vote, and surprised government ministers who had opposed the ban alongside the bulk of Switzerland's political and religious establishment.
The government rushed to assure the country's 400,000 Muslims, mainly from the Balkans and Turkey, that the outcome was not a rejection of Muslim religion or culture.