Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

From the Telegraph:

While the SVP’s anti-immigrant campaigns, including calls to ban minarets and expel foreign criminals, have drawn sharp criticism on the international arena including from the United Nations, the party has managed to increase its vote share in successive Swiss elections.

In 2003, the party obtained 26.6 per cent of votes case. At the last elections that improved to 28.9 per cent.

Those 1997 results were the highest for any Swiss party since the introduction of the proportional representation system in 1919, an SVP spokesman said.

Crossing the 30 per cent mark “would therefore be a new record,” he added.

The latest opinion polls showed 29.3 per cent of voters planning to back the SVP, far more than the next most popular party the Socialists, with just 19.9 per cent…

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From Al-Jazeera English:

Muslims, academics and human rights groups have hit out at a looming public ban in Belgium on the full face veil, following a decision in the country’s parliament to make the wearing of the article of clothing illegal.

The vote on Thursday was almost unanimous with 134 MPs in support of the law and just two abstentions.

“I think they’re trying to wind us up,” Souad Barlabi, a young woman wearing a simple veil, said outside the Grand Mosque in Brussels, the Belgian capital, around the time of Friday prayers.

“We feel under attack,” she said, a day after the politicians voted for the ban on clothes or veils that do not allow the wearer to be fully identified.

(more…)

By Baczynska, Gabriela, for Reuters:

WARSAW (Reuters) – In a sight familiar in some west European countries but new to Poland, dozens of protesters demonstrated in a Warsaw suburb last weekend against the construction of a mosque.

Plans by Poland’s tiny Muslim community to build a place of worship and an Islamic cultural center face opposition in a sign that concerns about Islam may be spreading eastwards to the staunchly Catholic European Union member.

Between 15,000 and 30,000 Muslims, many of them immigrants from Chechnya, live in Poland — the biggest ex-communist EU state where more than 90 percent of the 38-million population declare themselves Catholics.

Some 150 people protested at the half-finished building site, a 30-minute drive from the city center, where the Muslim League, a religious organization established in Poland in 2004 is building what will be only the country’s fifth mosque with government permission.

“Such centres are very often sources of radicalization,” said one protester, who like most of the demonstrators was happy to be filmed but unwilling to give his name.

He brandished a banner depicting minarets as missiles that resembled a stark image used in a Swiss referendum when electors voted last year to ban new minarets.

(more…)