Swiss Voters Approve Ban On Minarets In Switzerland on Sunday, voters approved a ban on the construction of minarets, the towers attached to mosques that broadcast the call to prayer.
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Swiss Voters Approve Ban On Minarets

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Swiss Voters Approve Ban On Minarets

Swiss Voters Approve Ban On Minarets

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ROBERT SMITH, Host:

Eleanor Beardsley visited Switzerland and has the story.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Hafid Ouardiri is head of a Muslim interfaith community organization in Geneva.

HAFID OUARDIRI: This is a shock for us because we was not expecting this kind of (unintelligible) can happen in Switzerland. They are thinking about minarets. But in reality, they are fighting against our life here and our faith.

BEARDSLEY: Swiss People's Party leader Oskar Freysinger says the Swiss don't want Muslims with an Islamic political agenda.

OSKAR FREYSINGER: It's a very strong sign of the civil society who says to Islam: You can come here, but in our country, religion is something of the private sphere. It's something individual.

BEARDSLEY: More than 57 percent of the population voted for the ban after a month-long campaign that stirred up xenophobic sentiments and fears of radical Islam. Over the weekend, a Christmas market was in full swing in the tiny Swiss town of Langenthal. The anti-minaret campaign got its start here and in two other towns. Langenthal native Esther Schunmann(ph) voted for the ban.

ESTHER SCHUNMANN: I like the people coming from other countries, but not the special ones who want to build minarets.

BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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