Egypt mufti says Swiss minaret ban insults Muslims

Egypt's Mufti Ali Gomaa, pictured in March 2009, denounced a vote to ban new minarets in Switzerland on Sunday as an "insult" to Muslims across the world, while calling on Muslims not to be provoked by the move.

Egypt's Mufti Ali Gomaa, pictured in March 2009, denounced a vote to ban new minarets in Switzerland on Sunday as an "insult" to Muslims across the world, while calling on Muslims not to be provoked by the move.

AFP – Egypt’s Mufti Ali Gomaa denounced a vote to ban new minarets in Switzerland on Sunday as an “insult” to Muslims across the world, while calling on Muslims not to be provoked by the move.

A solid majority of Swiss voters chose in a referendum to ban the construction of new minarets, the towers attached to mosques from which the call to prayers is announced.

“This proposal…is not considered just an attack on freedom of beliefs, but also an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside Switzerland,” Gomaa, the Egyptian government’s official interpreter of Islamic law, told the state-run news agency MENA.

He encouraged Switzerland’s 400,000-strong Muslim community to use “dialogue” and legal means to contest the ban, which he described as “provocative behaviour.”

The rightist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) — Switzerland’s biggest party — had forced the referendum after collecting a mandatory 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months.

Gomaa also called on Muslims not to be affected “by this provocation,” adding that Islam “considers humanity a single family.”

Egypt is the most populous Arab country and was at the forefront of a backlash against Denmark in 2006 after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed.

Cameron sets his stall out for election run in

Britain’s conservative opposition leader has outlined his vision for the country in his last party conference speech before a general election.

euronews channel-David Cameron enjoys a healthy lead in opinion polls with a maximum of eight months left until voting day.

He promised to reduce Britain’s spiralling public debt by shrinking the role of the state.

He told his party conference in Manchester:

“We will need to confront Britain’s culture of irresponsibility and that will be tough for many people. We will have to tear down Labour’s big government bureaucracy, ripping up its time-wasting, money-draining, responsibility-sapping nonsense.”

Cameron remained vague on what he would do if the EU’s Lisbon Treaty came into force before an election but indicated he wanted a smaller role for Brussels in British politics.

“Well here is a progressive reform plan for Europe: let us work together on the things where the EU can really help, like combatting climate change, fighting global poverty and spreading free and fair trade. But let us return to democratic and accountable politics those powers the EU should not have,” he said.

William Hague, who would be Cameron’s Foreign Secretary in government, earlier made the case for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty but without clarifying what would happen if the treaty was already in place.

With election victory at stake, Cameron is keen to keep the eurosceptics in his party firmly on his side.

Posters inflame minaret debate in Switzerland

Posters inflame minaret debate in SwitzerlandA poster which critics say incites hatred of Muslims is provoking intense debate in Switzerland.

It is part of a campaign supported by the anti-immigration Popular Party to ban the building of minarets, the towers from which Muslims are called to prayer.

The move will be put to a nationwide vote at the end of November. A federal anti-racism body has condemned the poster and some cities have banned it.

There were mixed views in Geneva. One man said:
“I support banning this kind of poster. They just stir up trouble in the coutry.”

Another said: “We’re a democracy, I don’t think a ban is necessary. But people have to use their intelligence and see what’s behind the message.”

“Is it normal to ban a poster during an election campaign?” a woman was asked. She answered: “If it goes beyond acceptable limits, yes.”

Reflecting the division on the streets some cities have banned the image while others have not, claiming that would curtail free speech.

At the moment polls suggest the move against the construction of minarets will be defeated. But there is a large number of undecided voters so the vote could be close.

Border wars: France attacks ‘racist’ Swiss ad

Opponents of a plan to ease travel between France and Switzerland face legal action for racism. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party says a new train line between Geneva and the border town of Annemasse will flood Switzerland with what it calls criminal ‘scum.

euronews channel-I agree with what this advert says: we must stop the train link because of the cost and because it will open us up to all the delinquents of Europe,” said People’s Party spokesman Yves Nidegger. “However, I admit the way it has been done is not very clever.”

Annemasse lies right on the Swiss border and thousands of people, French and others, cross every day to work in Geneva. The town’s mayor is outraged.

“I’m going to sue them,said Mayor Christian Dupessey. “My legal team is looking at how to proceed, because France and Switzerland are two countries with different legal systems. But I intend to sue the party for daring to issue this advert, and the paper which published it.”

The Swiss People’s Party earned widespread criticism last year after an election campaign showing a black sheep being kicked out of the country by white sheep – another advert denounced as racist.

Swiss parliament picks a new face

He is a fresh face in the cabinet but Switzerland’s so-called “magic formula” for government remains the same. Parliament in Berne picked Didier Burkhalter to join the power-sharing, seven-member Federal Council. It took four rounds of voting but the economist came out on top, his election helping to maintain a delicate balance in the corridors of power.

A Free Democrat, Burkhalter replaces fellow liberal and French-speaker Pascal Couchepin who announced he was stepping down after championing unpopular welfare reforms. The “magic formula” under which cabinet seats are divided between the biggest parties has preserved harmony among Switzerland’s regions and language groups, although in recent years it has faced calls for reform.

France: “Swiss tax evasion list is no bluff”

The shadowy world of Swiss banking is under pressure today, amid claims that a list of French citizens with secret accounts has found its way to Paris.French authorities insisted it is not a bluff, but the Swiss Banks’ Association cast doubt on the authenticity of such a list. Tax lawyers agree such information would be hard to extract from the normally close-mouthed Swiss system.

“It’s difficult to say if Paris is bluffing or not, but I can say that theoretically there is no simple way the French authorities could have obtained this type of information,” said French tax lawyer Didier Barsus. “The law simply doesn’t allow for that.”

Switzerland has long guarded its reputation for neutrality, especially in banking, but wants to get off an international “grey list” of suspected tax havens.

Foreign governments, led by the United States, want to know if people are evading tax by hoarding money offshore. A deal between Switzerland and France to share banking information comes into effect in the new year.

Swiss give France suspect bank account details

Just days after striking a deal with France on banking secrecy Switzerland has handed over thousands of account details to French tax investigators.

It is not clear which banks are involved, but in a newspaper interview the Swiss budget minister said some of the 3,000 accounts under scrutiny are “probably” linked to tax evasion.

Eric Woerth said that when the investigation was completed the severest penalties would be applied.

The minister also indicated that some account holders could face prosecution. “So I would encourage all French citizens to get their affairs in order,” he added.

The agreement is part of Swiss efforts to be removed from a so-called “grey list” of tax havens, drawn up by the international economic monitoring body, the OECD.

Swiss financial journalist Myret Zaki said: “There are 3,000 accounts amounting to three billion euros. That’s about a million euros per customer, so these aren’t the really big counts, the big customers. For those you have ….. specialist foundations, specially created trusts, sophisticated structures that remain watertight against French investigation. That’s where the billions are.”

Switzerland is the world’s biggest offshore banking centre. In March, under pressure from the G20 group of world economies it agreed to relax its banking secrecy and to share certain account details with other jurisdictions.