UK architects criticise Swiss minaret ban

British architects have slammed a vote in Switzerland blocking the construction of minarets
In a referendum organised by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), 57.5 per cent of voters approved a constitutional ban on the construction of minarets. The SVP labelled minarets as symbols of a rising political power that could transform Switzerland into an Islamic state. Voters in just four of the country’s 26 cantons, or states, rejected the initiative. Mangera Yvars Architects’ Ali Mangera, who masterminded the original London super-mosque proposals, said: ‘Decisions like this should be placed on architectural factors, not a pretext against Islam. This is more to do with the emasculation of a group of people – the right wing is behind this. He added: ‘[Minarets] are not ideal for every part of London and they are not just about the call to prayer. But they are interesting features and also function as natural air conditioning mechanisms. ’ Adrian Stewart, director of Do Architecture, which designed the minaret-less Al-Furqan Mosque in Glasgow for the UK Islamic Mission, said: ‘This is being used to isolate a community. A minaret is not a critical component of a mosque and does not always have to be involved. The debate has been blown out of proportion. We know from experience there is a desire to generate a regionalism, which makes a mosque very much more about its location.’ Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, commented that mosques and minarets in Europe remained ‘manifestations of the proudly indigenous nature of Islam in Europe’. He added: ‘It is tragic that the far right is stripping away at our heritage of coexistence between faiths and cultures in Europe.’ Far right parties in Austria, Belgium and France have used the Swiss vote to call for a similar ban in their own countries.

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