The Swiss minaret controversy began in a small municipality in the northern part of Switzerland in 2005. The contention involved the Turkish Cultural Association in Wangen bei Olten, which applied for a construction permit to erect a 6-metre-high minaret on the roof of its Islamic community centre. The project faced opposition from surrounding residents, who had formed a group to prevent the tower’s erection. The 6-metre (20 ft)-high minaret was eventually erected in July 2009.
BY NAYYAR HASHMEY
Some years ago there were news that a Swiss politician Daniel Streich, a former member of the Swiss People’s Party, a Protestant by confession converted to Catholicism and then to Islam. Consequetly Streich left his party which was spearheading the campaign to impose a national ban on minarets in Switzerland.
Streich was a founding member and president of the Gruyères section of the party from 2003 to 2007. His embraced Islam in 2005, before which he was a devout Catholic. On his conversion to Islam said Streich “my religion offeres me logical answers to important life questions”.
In 2007 Streich stated that he had “many Muslim friends” yet did not make public his personal conversion to Islam until early November 2009, when he left the Swiss People’s Party. He then participated in setting up the Conservative Democratic Party cantonal section.
The ban on the construction of minarets in Switzerland has had a very interesting side story. Streich, a member of the SPP, a party that pushed for the minaret ban, announced that their cantonal head had become a Muslim. Outside of Switzerland, the mainstream media ignored this. Muslims around the world, however, picked up on the story, circulating it on blogs and on Facebook.
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