[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] rejected two appeals [decision, in French; press release] from Swiss Muslims challenging Switzerland’s ban on construction of minarets. The court ruled that the appeals were inadmissible because the complaints failed to meet the requirements of Article 35 Section 3 and 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. Specifically, the court found that since the appeals were only meant to challenge a constitutional provision in a general manner in Switzerland, the applicants had failed to show any specific injury. Supporters and opponents were not surprised [Swissinfo report] by the ECHR’s decision. Hafid Ouardiri, one of the challengers, characterized his failed challenge as a necessary step and was encouraged by the court’s statement that the Swiss courts “would be able to would be able to examine the compatibility of a possible refusal to authorise the construction of a minaret with the European Human Rights Convention”.
Ouardiri filed his complaint [JURIST report] in December 2009, alleging that the ban violates his rights to freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination under Articles 9, 13, and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In December 2009, a group of Swiss intellectuals called for [JURIST report] the ban’s reversal. Swiss Supreme Court President Lawrence Meyer also said [NZZ report, in German], in December 2009 that two suits had been filed in federal court challenging the ban’s legality. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] has condemned the ban [JURIST report] as a form of religious discrimination. In 2008, 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].