Page last updated at 17:22 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Middle East press sees double standards in Swiss ban

Mahmud Mosque in Zurich
Mahmud Mosque in Zurich

Newspapers in the Middle East are critical after the Swiss voted in a referendum to ban the building of minarets.

Some see it as an extremist or even racist step which highlights apparent double standards in Europe's respect for human rights.

Although some papers say Swiss-Muslim relations might be adversely affected by the ban, a Lebanese daily says it is unlikely to lead to protests like the ones sparked by Danish cartoons.

Editorial in pan-Arab AL-QUDS AL-ARABI

The Swiss decision to ban the construction of minarets confirms that Europe is heading towards a far-right extremism and persists in its enmity towards Islam and Muslims.

Editorial in Iran's AL-VEFAGH

The vote to ban the building of minarets in Switzerland is, first, a shock for democracy and human rights and, second, a violation of the rights of many Swiss citizens who belong to the Islamic religion. It is therefore a racist step that is not appropriate for human civilisation.

Walid Nuwayhid in Bahrain's AL-WASAT

Regardless of the final results of the referendum, the fact that the issue was put to a popular vote in the first place indicates that there is an undeclared crisis in human relations with the other, the different and the immigrants.

Ibrahim Si'dah in Egypt's AL-AKHBAR

The people will decide and the government will only have to implement [the decision]. This is actually the motto that has been adopted in Switzerland for centuries. But how do the Swiss people decide? It is through a democratic system that nobody can disagree with.

Editorial in Qatar's THE PENINSULA

Freedom of expression is considered sacrosanct and inviolable in Europe, but at the same time, the continent has of late practised double standards when it comes to granting the same right to Muslims, whether it's in the form of the Swiss ban or the ban on burqas in France.

Sati Nur-al-Din in Lebanon's AL-SAFIR

The new Swiss decision will probably not lead to protests like the ones sparked by the Danish cartoons a few years ago. It also will not lead to an Islamic fatwa against the Swiss People's Party or its leaders. But it puts Switzerland in an unjustifiable and incomprehensible confrontation with the Muslim world.

Hafith al-Barghuthi in Palestinian AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH

I am not frightened when Switzerland or any other country forbids the construction of minarets. However, I become afraid when I see Islamist groups destroying minarets and mosques over the heads of worshipers in Arab and Islamic countries.

Hilmi al-Asmar in Jordan's AL-DUSTUR

In the West, right wing forces, as they are called by the media, are allowed to act, rule and draw policies… but in our countries these are called dark, Talibanic, retarded forces.

Mzin Hammad in Qatar's AL-WATAN

The result of the referendum represents a victory for all right-wing parties on the European continent and gives them the justification and precedent to follow the Switzerland route.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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