BERN, Switzerland, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Voter approval of a ban on minarets in Switzerland violates the religious freedom of Muslims living in that country, human rights activists said.
Exit polls showed 59 percent Swiss voters approved the ban on the building of minarets, a feature of Islamic mosques, reported the respected gjf.bern polling group.
"That Switzerland, a country with a long tradition of religious tolerance and the provision of refuge to the persecuted, should have accepted such a grotesquely discriminatory proposal is shocking indeed," Amnesty International spokesman David Diaz-Jogeix said in a statement.
The ban was proposed by the Swiss People's Party, which said minarets represent the growth of an ideology and a legal system of Muslim Sharia law incompatible with Swiss law, the BBC reported.
Opponents said the ban would violate Switzerland's commitment to freedom of religious expression and cause a backlash across the Muslim world, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
Nearly 400,000 Muslims live in Switzerland, which has just four minarets.