The two main Albanian muslim associations will sign a declaration in Bern today stipulating that no religious rules can replace Swiss laws. The Swiss Albanian muslim community and the Swiss union of Albanian imams will both sign the declaration in the presence of the Swiss authorities and representatives of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.
Naim Malaj, a former ambassador from Kosovo in Switzerland, is behind the initiative. He said he hopes the declaration will encourage cultural and religious groups the get involved in civic training in relation to Swiss democracy and its institutions.
“We would like to show another side of the Islam practiced by part of the Albanian community in Switzerland” he said. Around 300,000 Albanians live in Switzerland, the vast majority of whom are non-practicing muslims, said Malaj.
One paragraph of the text commits to respecting the rights of women and their equality under Swiss law. “If a woman wishes to wear a veil, she is free to do so. But it must never be imposed by religious leaders” said Malaj.
- Muslim school pupils’ exemption from handshaking causes a stir in Switzerland (Le News)
- Muslim pupils in Basel must shake teachers’ hands (Le News)
“I hope this pact will also show the attachment the community has to Switzerland and its values, and demonstrate gratitude for everything the country has done for the Balkans” said Malaj.
The incident last year when two school pupils in Therwil refused to shake their teacher’s hand, shocked the former ambassador. After that he spoke with Albanian imams and they were clear in their condemnation of the pupils’ refusal to shake hands.