Keywords: Religion

Popular initiative against the construction of minarets

What is it about?

On 29 November 2009, the Swiss people and cantons voted in favour of the popular initiative entitled "Against the Construction of Minarets". In doing so, they also voiced their approval of a new provision in the Swiss constitution: "The construction of minarets is prohibited" (article 72, paragraph 3). This new provision entered into force immediately. It does not affect the four existing minarets in Zurich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen, however.

What has happened so far?


  • On 8 July 2008, the popular initiative against the construction of minarets was submitted by a group of private individuals to the Federal Chancellery with 113,540 valid signatures. The initiative seeks to add the following clause to Article 72 of the Federal Constitution: "The construction of minarets is prohibited."
  • In its dispatch, approved on 27 August 2008, the Federal Council requested the Swiss parliament to recommend that the initiative be rejected without making a counter-proposal (press release).
  • On 12 June 2009, the National Council and Council of States approved the federal decree and recommended that the intiative be rejected.
  • On 15 October 2009, the Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Neuchatel Cantonal Councillor Jean Studer and Pastor Thomas Wipf, Chairman of the Swiss Council of Religions, call on voters to safeguard religious peace and to reject the popular initiative "Against the construction of minarets" (press release).
  • On 29 November 2009, a majority of the Swiss people and the cantons adopts the popular initiative against the construction of minarets (media release).
    Statement by Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf
    Results of the referendum
  • In May 2010, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) submits two appeals against the minaret ban to Switzerland for its response as to whether or not they a) are admissible and b) contain reasonable justification.
  • In his response of 15 September 2010, the representative of the Swiss government petitions the ECHR to declare both appeals inadmissible. The primary argument is that the appellants were not victims of a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, since they had not had an application to build a minaret rejected. If they had had such an application denied, they would be able to seek recourse in domestic legal remedies. These channels of appeal would have to be exhausted before the matter could be brought before the ECHR in Strasbourg.
  • In its decisions of 28 June 2011 the ECHR declares both appeals against the minaret ban inadmissible (press release).



Further information


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

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Marc Schinzel Federal Office of Justice
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Simone Füzesséry Federal Office of Justice
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