Muslims protest the Swiss ban in Bern earlier this month.(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

The head of U.N. Watch, a gadfly of the world body, pointed this weekend to what he argues are unintended and destructive consequences of Switzerland’s ban on the construction of new mosque minarets. Emboldened by the Swiss law, argues Executive Director Hillel C. Neuer, the Algeria-led U.N. Human Rights Council is seeking to change an international treaty in order to allow Islamic governments to quash dissent that falls under “defamation of religion.”

Paradoxically, the most intolerant Islamists are likely to be strengthened by this act of bigotry, not weakened. Acts of intolerance by Western countries provide justification for banning religious freedom in Muslim countries. … What a pity that Switzerland’s minaret folly—which, at the least, discourages religious expression by individuals—may end up hurting non-Muslim minorities in the Mideast as well as liberal Muslims.

The argument echoes that of many European Jewish leaders, who expressed disappointment at the Swiss. Meanwhile, a new poll suggests that a referendum for a similar ban would likely pass in the United Kingdom and would face a fighting chance in the United States.

A Swiss Ban on Minarets [NYT]
How to Interpret the U.K. ‘Ban Minarets’ Poll [New Statesman]

Earlier: Europe’s Jews Oppose Swiss Minaret Ban