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Westerwelle defends Swiss after minaret ban

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Westerwelle defends Swiss after minaret ban
Photo: DPA
14:03 CET+01:00
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Saturday that it was wrong to consider Switzerland a nation of bigots after its vote in favour of a ban on building new mosque minarets.

"As much as I - just like the Swiss government - regret the outcome, it's wrong to come to the conclusion that Switzerland is an intolerant or undemocratic country because of this vote," he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Switzerland was one of the world's oldest democracies and was founded on tolerance, Westerwelle said, however, he admitted he would have campaigned for a different result.

In a referendum in Switzerland last weekend, 57 percent of voters approved a right-wing motion to ban future construction of minarets, a decision that was met with an international backlash and charges of religious prejudice against Muslims.

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