Protests over the construction of Slovenia 1st mosque

In Ljubljana a group of residents is gathering signatures for a referendum to stop the construction of Slovenia's first mosque. The group says a mosque with its protruding minarets would be out of place in the heart of this mainly Roman Catholic country. Islam is now Slovenia's second-largest religion so is resistance to a Mosque - a sign of religious intolerance

A group of people in Ljubljana is trying to stop the construction of Slovenia's first mosque by a referendum. They have gathered enough signatures to demand a referendum and now the question is how the mayor of Ljubljana, Danica Simsic, will react. Will she let the referendum go? I asked the initiator of the referendum Mihael Jarc, what exactly the question at the referendum will be:

"The referendum is not about whether there will be an Islamic cultural and religious centre but it is an urbanite and architectural act and it is the same act as for any other building. So we are not deciding on whether there will be a mosque with the whole other facilities and buildings but we will decide on the referendum about the architectural act and I have to repeat once again that we are not against that that the people, who belong to the Islamic culture they don't need their religious buildings to express their religious will and their will for gathering but we as the Slovenes we are 88 % owners of this house, which is called Slovenia and we have the right to say them how they will fulfil their religious feelings in the way that the law, constitution and the human rights are not rejected."

The leader of the Islamic community in Lubljana is Mufti Dzogic. He believes the opposition is based on religious prejudice...

"I think the reasons are stereotypes and prejudice against Islam. Islam is not spreading in Slovenia in a sense that the number of Muslims who are living in Slovenia at this moment they have been living here for decades, so the number neither is bigger nor smaller." The group of people, who are the most against it they are using the lack of information on Islam they pursue their goals to stop the building."

In your opinion are Slovenes very intolerant?

" They are tolerant but in some way to tell the truth they are intolerant. We as Muslims can say that the situation in terms of our rights is fairly good, we have no major problems, until we come to the point of building the mosque. When we come to that point we go back. I would say the picture is in some way controversial."

Your prediction what will be the outcome of the story?

"My prediction is absolutely optimistic. Sooner or later the mosque or actually the Islamic centre will be standing there. Because the Muslims of Slovenia are the citizens of Slovenia and they have all rights to fulfil all their needs and spiritual needs as well as all the other citizens."

The mayor of Ljubljana, Danica Simsic says it is unacceptable to vote in a referendum about the rights of religious groups. She says the matter will be handed to the Constitutional Court to decide. But she cannot do this on her own, because 11.000 signatures supporting the referendum have already been collected. Danica Simsic has summoned an extraordinary session of the Ljubljana city council for next week, where she will try to gather enough support for a judgement on the matter by the Constitutional Court. Whether the Constitutional Court will allow the referendum to go ahead is likely to depend on its wording.