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26 I SPECIAL FEATURE Passion Islam I August 2008
Muslim Religious Holidays will take university-level courses for a et Musulmanes de Suisse” (MMS) and
No particular measures exist in Switzerland minimum of two years. The teachings “La Ligue des Musulmans de Suisse”;
concerning Muslim religious holidays. will be particularly geared towards young however, there is no official representative
However, according to some judicial Muslims born in Switzerland of second or like in France.
decisions, Muslims have a right to take third generation. The goal is to have people
days off from work on Muslim religious educated in religious matters as well as Cemeteries
holidays unless this leave causes a major being integrated in local life. Alongside The issue of cemeteries for Muslims in
economical damage to the employer. classes on the Koran and the Sunnah, Switzerland varies. As a federation of
Also note that no reduction of work hours the students will also follow courses in states, Switzerland has left this issue to
is legally permitted during the Ramadan judicial decisions and comparative law, the competence of the cantons. Most
fast, but arrangements can be made thus enabling them to profess an Islam often the cantons then let the communes
with the employer on an individual basis. adapted to the Swiss laws and way of life. individually decide a solution which best
One example of unofficial regulation that This project is supposed to begin in fall suits their population. However, we can
exists concerns gymnastics at school 2004. briefly note that Bern was the first canton
during Ramadan. Students following their to set aside and reserve in their cemeteries
religious rite of fasting during Ramadan Organizations and Associations a section for Muslims. Likewise, Basel,
are exempted from gym class due to the There are various Muslim associations Saint-Gall and Zurich have opted for this
danger of fainting or dehydration. in Switzerland. At present, there are 35 solution of ’’Muslims sections.’’ Moreover,
generically named Muslim associations, Geneva has a Muslim cemetery and,
Number of mosques and prayer halls 4 Muslims youth associations, 3 Muslim it appears, Basel has a private Muslim
Switzerland has registered 97 mosques women associations and 4 Muslim help cemetery.
and/or prayers hall. Only one in Geneva associations. It should be noted that most The Muslim cemetery in Geneva is now
and one in Zurich have the proper Islamic of the regular Muslim associations have fully occupied and the Geneva authorities
architecture to be considered mosques substructures for their youth and, often, are looking for new solutions. In January
whereas the rest are mainly prayer halls. the women are also organized within the 2004, a law project was submitted to
Some have real infrastructures with a framework of the main association. [The make confessional cemeteries legal. In
library and/or a cafeteria, but these are main associations are presented below Neuchatel and Fribourg, requests for
rare. with their websites.] Muslim associations ’’Muslim sections’’ of existing cemeteries
are generally locally organized, but they or for a Muslim cemetery have recently
Islamic Schools are also starting to organize themselves been made but no official response has
There are no Islamic schools in within the frame of the cantons. In most been given thus far. As for the funeral
Switzerland. Thus, the religious cantons, the associations are organizing rites, Muslim organizations usually
socialization of young Muslims is mostly themselves into unions (for example, provide personnel to prepare the body for
performed by the families and the local the Union of Muslim associations of the the funeral.
associations. The only exception to the canton of Fribourg) giving them more The question of internment also falls
rule is the canton of Lucerne mentioned weight to discuss important issues (eg. under the competence of the communes.
above. The foundation of the Geneva cemeteries, swimming pools, construction When no legislation exists, the parishes
Mosque intends to create an institute to of mosques, etc.). At the Swiss level, do their best to find a solution that is
train imams, a national first. The students two main structures exist: “Musulmans acceptable to the family.
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