Swiss Shock: Minaret Rejection, European Values, and the Challenge of Tolerant neutrality

Pratt, Douglas (2013). Swiss Shock: Minaret Rejection, European Values, and the Challenge of Tolerant neutrality. Politics, Religion & Ideology, 14(2), pp. 193-207. 10.1080/21567689.2013.792649

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In 2009 Switzerland, for long an apparent beacon of European toleration and neutrality, voted to ban the erection of minarets. Internal religious matters are normally dealt with at the regional or local level – not at the level of the Swiss national parliament, although the state does seek to ensure good order and peaceful relations between different faith communities. Indeed, the freedom of these communities to believe and function publicly is enshrined in law. However, as a matter of national policy, now constitutionally embedded, one religious group, the Muslim group, is not permitted to build their distinctive religious edifice, the minaret. Switzerland may have joined the rest of Europe with respect to engaging the challenge of Islamic presence to European identity and values, but the rejection of a symbol of the presence of one faith – in this case, Islamic – by a society that is otherwise predominantly secular, pluralist, and of Christian heritage, poses significant concerns. How and why did this happen? What are the implications? This paper will discuss some of the issues involved, concluding the ban is by no means irreversible. Tolerant neutrality may yet again be a leitmotif of Swiss culture and not just of foreign policy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


01 Faculty of Theology > Department of Old Catholic Theology [discontinued]

UniBE Contributor:

Pratt, George


200 Religion > 280 Christian denominations
200 Religion > 230 Christianity & Christian theology


2156-7689 (Print), 2156-7697 (Online)




Angela Berlis

Date Deposited:

25 Apr 2014 07:53

Last Modified:

25 Apr 2014 07:53

Publisher DOI:



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