Minarets in Switzerland

| Sun Nov. 29, 2009 2:11 PM EST

No more minarets in Switzerland:

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show. More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons — or provinces — voted in favour of the ban.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.

Is this a sign of the resurgence of hard-right anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe, or is it just an exceptional result from an exceptional country?  Switzerland is a very socially conservative place (its famous multilingual tolerance notwithstanding), so in one sense it's not a surprise that this referendum passed.  Still, it was polling at only 37% support a week ago and ended up winning with 57% of the vote.  That's a big swing from just a few final days of campaigning,1 and it suggests that it would hardly be impossible for other European countries to follow suit.2

1Unless, of course, Swiss voters have a tendency to lie to pollsters on sensitive questions like this, as they seem to in America.

2If they had referendums, that is.  Which most of them don't.  But obviously a referendum isn't the only way to accomplish something like this.

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