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'Swiss show 'hatred' for Muslims'

world Updated: Nov 30, 2009 11:10 IST

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Indonesia's biggest Muslim group condemned on Monday a Swiss vote to ban the construction of new minarets as a manifestation of religious hatred, but urged a restrained response.

A majority of Swiss voters Sunday backed a far-right initiative to outlaw new minarets, the towers attached to mosques from which the call to prayer is announced.

Maskuri Abdillah, the head of Nahdlatul Ulama which has 40 million members in the world's biggest Muslim-majority country, called on followers not to be provoked by the vote.

"This is the hatred of Swiss people against Muslim communities. They don't want to see a Muslim presence in their country and this intense dislike has made them intolerant," he told AFP.

"It's very regrettable... obviously this is a narrow-minded way of thinking about Muslims."

He said tolerance was the best answer to intolerance.

"We call on Indonesian Muslims not to take revenge over the decision. We should show them tolerance and the freedom of religion," Abdillah said, adding that any protests should be peaceful.

Nearly 90 percent of Indonesia's 234 million people are Muslims and most practise a moderate form of the religion, although the country has suffered a spate of extremist attacks.