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Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Chairman
Hon. Alcee L. Hastings, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
December 3, 2009


WASHINGTON—Swiss politicians should lead their country in tolerance and denounce those who seek to ban religious cemeteries from the European country, leaders of the U.S. Helsinki Commission said today.

Two days after the country voted to ban construction of Muslim minarets, Christophe Darbellay, president of the mainstream Christian Democratic People's Party of Switzerland, called for a ban on Jewish and Muslim cemeteries in Switzerland.

“Swiss political leaders should promote tolerance and respect for all religious communities rather than fan the country’s current flames of discrimination,” said U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). “The Swiss should denounce calls for any limitations on peaceful expression of religious faith, and they should support the rights of all religious communities to create proper, respectful places of rest in line with their own traditions.”

“The Swiss often play a leadership role in promoting human rights and humanitarian norms around the globe. We now see right-wing politicians tarnishing that image at the expense of the country’s minority faith communities,” said Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Co-Chairman of the Commission. “This latest call for a ban on Jewish or Muslim cemeteries adds to a worrying trend of discrimination against immigrants and minorities across Europe – a trend that must be reversed.”

Media Contact: Neil Simon
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