Swiss campaigner behind burqa ban wants to outlaw public Muslim prayers

Right-wing Swiss People's Party voices support for ban

Harry Cockburn
Friday 15 February 2019 15:28 GMT
Muslim prayer
Muslim prayer (Getty)

A man who led a successful campaign to ban burqas in a region of Switzerland is now calling on authorities to outlaw Muslims from praying in public.

Giorgio Ghiringhelli, a right-wing activist who calls himself “il Guastafeste”, which roughly translates as “the killjoy” or “the spoilsport”, has said such a ban is necessary to prevent “a Muslim ghetto like you see in Belgium”.

He has petitioned the Swiss canton of Ticino’s parliament to make such public prayers illegal.

On his website he warns of the “danger of the Islamisation of our Western society” and calls for a “policy of zero tolerance towards the subtle strategies of conquering Europe and radicalisation of Muslims implemented by Islamists”.

He also claims Muslim prayers are “anything but innocent” and “contain sublime messages of hatred towards Christians and Jews”.

A parliamentary committee in Ticino has already overwhelming rejected Mr Ghiringhelli’s petition and it is thought the same will happen when it is discussed at an upcoming parliamentary session, according to Swiss news website The Local.

The petition is due to be examined by the Grand Council in the session scheduled for 18-20 February.

If it fails, Mr Ghiringhelli has threatened to launch a regional referendum. In order to do so he would have to collect 7,000 signatures from eligible voters in 100 days.

This is not beyond possibility. He has already won the backing of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) - the country’s largest political party.

SVP national councilors Andreas Glarner and Walter Wobmann have even voiced support for a national initiative, according to Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes.

“When we go abroad, we can see the threat,” said Mr Glarner. “In Belgium, the issue of Muslim ghettos is already relevant today."

If such a ban gained support, it is possible it would not only discriminate against Muslims, but could be constructed in a similar manner to the new ‘secularism law’ adopted by authorities in Geneva earlier this month and which bans workers from wearing religious symbols, and bans religious demonstrations in public expect in specific cases. Fifty-five per cent of voters supported the new law.

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