Swiss Muslims protest minaret ban

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The Independent Online

Around 700 Swiss Muslims peacefully protested against their country's minaret ban today, with speakers denouncing what they called a hate campaign against Islam.

The protest in the capital, Bern, was not supported by the country's main Muslim organizations.

It came two weeks after Swiss voters decided to ban the construction of minarets, drawing wide criticism from Muslim and other European nations.

Nicolas Blancho, who organized Saturday's protest, said he did not believe that the country's voters hate Islam but that they had been scared by propaganda from right-wing parties.

The main guest speaker, a controversial Muslim preacher, was absent because Swiss authorities refused him entry, saying he poses a public security risk.

Pierre Vogel, a German former professional boxer who converted to Islam, is known for his conservative positions. Vogel was turned back as he tried to cross into Switzerland by car from Germany late Friday, said frontier corps spokesman Markus Zumbach.

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