Switzerland's Commission Against Racism said Wednesday that an anti-minaret poster campaign by a far-right party was racist, targeting the country's Muslim minority following a ban on the poster in several cities which deemed it to be racially prejudiced against Muslims, local media reported Tuesday.
The federal commission issued a damning commentary on the posters and the political party's repeated use of inflammatory images and text, saying that they are a danger to public peace and encourage prejudice and, in general, against Islam.
'The commission believes that this could threaten social cohesion and public peace,' the government commission said in a statement.
'This is equivalent to defamation of Switzerland's peaceful Muslim population,' added the commission.
"Stop! Yes for the ban on minarets," is written in French- and German- language posters next to the image that depicting a woman wearing a burka against a background of a Swiss flag upon which several minarets ressembling missiles were erected.
The hatred move will be put to a nationwide vote on the 26 November referendum which will include three items, one to ban the construction of new minarets in the country. The proposal is widely expected to be defeated, based on recent polls, but it could be close.
Critics say the poster incited hatred of Muslims is provoking intense debate in Switzerland.
Basel-City and Lausanne have refused permission for the posters to go up, while Geneva Wednesday afternoon 7 October decided to allow them. Several cities asked the Swiss Federal Commission Against Racism for an opinion, which it issued Wednesday afternoon 7 October. Since then Fribourg has banned them, too.
Basel decided the posters violated a local law banning posting items which contain racist or discriminatory content.
Meanwhile, the SVP has threatened to ignore general Swiss codes of conduct and, to get around the ban, would hang their posters in Basel illegally, and not in the designated places for political campaigns.
SVP has also run into accusations of racism in past.
More than 310,000 of Switzerland's 7.5 million population are Muslims, making Islam the second biggest religion in the country after Christianity.