Thursday, December 03, 2009

Swiss Politician Calls For Ban On Separate Religious Cemeteries

On the heels of the Swiss referendum pushed by right wing groups to ban the construction of new minarets, a Swiss politician is now proposing a ban on the construction of new Jewish and Muslim cemeteries.
A mainstream Swiss political leader is calling for a ban on separate Muslim and Jewish cemeteries.

Christophe Darbellay, president of the Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, made the statement in a television interview Tuesday, two days after Swiss voters passed an initiative to ban minarets.

The anti-minaret initiative came from the opposition ultra-conservative Swiss People's Party and other right-wing political organizations. Critics say Darbellay is starting a "crusade" to attract voters by proposing similarly xenophobic measures.

Mainstream politicians and religious leaders across Europe have reacted with dismay to the anti-minaret vote.

According to the Swiss online daily Tagesanzeiger, Darbellay also wants to ban the wearing of burkas, head-to-toe veils worn by some fundamentalist Muslim women.

Darbellay reportedly said that existing cemeteries would not be affected by a ban, but that there should be no separate cemeteries in the future.
Jewish burial practices are well established and preventing further Jewish cemeteries to be created would violate the free exercise of the religious practices of Jews. But, as we've seen, European concepts of free speech and religious freedoms are quite different from the American concepts, which most Americans take for granted.

Jews make up 0.3% of the population of the country - or about 20,000 citizens. The Swiss have regularly restricted ritual slaughter of meat according to Jewish practices (kashrut) since the 1800s. They prevent the practice inside the country, although they allow koshered meat to be imported since the 1970s.

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