Swiss leader calls for Muslim and Jewish cemetery ban

A mainstream Swiss political leader is calling for a ban on separate Muslim and Jewish cemeteries. Christophe Darbellay, president of the Christian Democratic People’s Party of Switzerland, made the statement in a television interview Tuesday, two days after Swiss voters passed an initiative to ban minarets.

The anti-minaret initiative came from the opposition ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party and other right-wing political organizations. Critics say Darbellay is starting a “crusade” to attract voters by proposing similarly xenophobic measures. Mainstream politicians and religious leaders across Europe have reacted with dismay to the anti-minaret vote.

According to the Swiss online daily Tagesanzeiger, Darbellay also wants to ban the wearing of burkas, head-to-toe veils worn by some fundamentalist Muslim women.

Darbellay reportedly said that existing cemeteries would not be affected by a ban, but that there should be no separate cemeteries in the future.

The Swiss People’s Party called for crackdowns on expressions of Muslim fundamentalism in 2006. Observers said the demand for separate cemeteries is an escalation.

JTA, 3 December 2009