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Islam Times Exclusive:

Swiss Muslims look to getting official organisation

22 Feb 2012 - 14:12

Islam Times - Swiss Muslim activists are cooperating to create a democratically elected body representing the country’s Muslim minority, hoping that such a body would improve understanding of Muslim issues among the authorities and the general population...

Islam Times: “Our goal is to create a legitimate democratic believers’ community that represents all of Switzerland’s Muslims,” Farhad Afshar, president of the Coordination of Islamic Organizations of Switzerland (KIOS) said.

The idea came to light following consultations with the country’s Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups.

Leading the initiative for the new body, KIOS and the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Switzerland (FIOS) have been working to formalize the “Swiss umma” idea.

Circulating it since 2009, both organizations claim the new body could be in place by as early as 2013.

The initiators have formed a commission of public law and Islamic legal experts to examine the new body’s future statutes to ensure they respect federal and cantonal legislation.

Organizers believe a new grassroots community would improve understanding of Muslim issues among the authorities and the general population.

“The parliament should agree on social and political questions that concern Muslims so that we can talk with one voice,” FIOS president Hisham Maizar told the Südostschweiz newspaper.

It would also be an important step towards the formal recognition of Islam as an official religion, in Switzerland, says Afshar.

“Whenever this question is raised the answer is always that you are not democratically organized and your groups do not represent the Swiss Muslim community,” he said.

“With such an organization we can speak on the same level,” he added.

Switzerland is home to an estimated 400,000 Muslims, out of a population of more than 7 million, most of whom are immigrants from Albania and elsewhere in the Balkans.
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