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Switzerland liberals call for referendum to reverse minaret ban

[JURIST] A group of Swiss intellectuals on Sunday called for a reversal of Switzerland's recent vote to ban the construction of minarets [JURIST report]. The Swiss intellectual group Club Helvetique [advocacy website, in German] told a Swiss newspaper that they plan to institute a new referendum [Reuters report] to overturn the ban imposed through a referendum last week. Swiss Supreme Court President Lawrence Meyer also said [NZZ report, in German] Sunday that two suits have been filed in federal court challenging the ban's legality. Meanwhile, Muslim leaders have continued to speak out against the ban. Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi [official website] warned [SwissInfo report] Sunday that the ban could make Switzerland an enticing target for al Qaeda. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called [IRNA report] Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey Sunday to express Iran's anger and disappointment with the ban, telling Calmy-Rey that the ban is inconsistent with Switzerland's stated dedication to democracy and human rights.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] condemned the ban [JURIST report] as a form of religious discrimination. Last year, the Swiss government announced [JURIST report] that Swiss nationalist parties had gathered enough signatures on their initiative against the construction of minarets [initiative website, in French] to force a national referendum on whether the country's constitution should be amended to ban the structures. The initiative was originally sponsored by the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party (SVP) [party website].

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