The minaret of the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Foundation is pictured at Grand-Saconnex in Geneva October 15, 2009. Switzerland will hold a referendum on banning the construction of new minarets on November 29 after a group of politicians from the Swiss People's Party (SVP) and Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures last year to force the vote.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse  (SWITZERLAND RELIGION POLITICS) *** Local Caption ***  DBA05_SWISS-MINARET_1015_03.JPG
The minaret of the mosque of the Islamic Cultural Foundation is pictured at Grand-Saconnex in Geneva.

Swiss canton approves divisive secularism law

Citizens in Switzerland’s second largest city approved Sunday a controversial law that bans public officials and politicians from wearing religious symbols in the workplace, amid criticism of the Islamophobic undertones of the measure.

The newly-approved “secularism law”, which was backed by over 55 per cent of the population in the Geneva Canton, has left the community highly polarised.

The measure was the product of a debate on the relationship between religion and the state that has raged for five years.

The right-leaning cantonal parliament in Geneva championed the law under the token that it will help define the limits to religious expression in the public sphere and protect the religious freedom of believers and non-believers alike.

“This law guarantees the neutrality of the state in religious matters,” Liberal politician Pierre Maudet told local media in the aftermath of the vote, adding that this would contribute to increase “social cohesion.”

Cohesion, however, seems distant. Right-wing parties and the church have backed the reform while the left and trades unions, as well as Muslim and feminist organisations, opposed it.

Some exponents of left-wing political parties criticised their own parties' approach to the secularist debate, saying that boiling down the discussion to the hijab has brought about an emotional negative reaction on the part of Swiss voters.

Critics say the law – which will extend a ban on visible religious symbols that already applies to public school teachers – will have a discriminatory effect on Muslim women who wear a headscarf. "I hope the courts will strike this down, given this law goes against the Swiss Constitution and of the European Convention on Human Rights," said Sabine Tiguemounine, a Green Party councillor who is the only elected representative in the canton to wear a head covering.

Other representatives warned the referendum would impose difficult choices on state-run institutions.

Carole-Anne Kast, a municipal official warned that some five staff on her payroll would be laid-off as a result. "These are women who help children to get to school, or take care of children after school hours,” she said. “What should I tell parents then?”

However there were also concerns the issue was being inflamed by special interest groups to raise their profile.

The director of the Islamic Centre in Geneva, Hani Ramadan said warned that secularism was reconcilable with the provisions of the Swiss constitution.

“’In the name of God Almighty,’ this is the expression that appears not in the introduction of a chapter on the Sharia but in the introduction to our Swiss constitution. Switzerland in its entirety is cannot be reduced to the secularism that is rife in Geneva… just like Islam cannot be brought back to a lifestyle that is purely secularist,” Mr Ramadan wrote on Le Temps.

Mr Ramadan – who is the grandson of the founder of the controversial Muslim Brotherhood and the brother of Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar who is currently facing sexual assault charges – is himself a controversial figure.

His assets were frozen by the French government for over six months last year as part of a crackdown against people “facilitating, financing or inciting terrorism”.

Mr Ramadan’s name was one of 16 on a list of foreign nationals sentenced for or suspected of having links to a terrorist organisation. In 2017 he was barred from France and escorted to the Swiss border.

The debate on the relationship between the religious and the state has been brought back to the forefront in a number of European countries following the surge in migrant arrivals in 2011.

Switzerland is a secular state in which state and religion are in principle separated but where religion is not totally banned from public law. The state acknowledges a privileged status to different important religious communities and, to a certain extent, cooperates with them.

The emergence of non-Western religious communities rekindled the debate over whether the focus of the state policy is the laity of the state or religious neutrality and triggered a number of votes that critics say directly targeted the liberties of Muslim communities.

In 2009, a successful popular initiative against the construction of minarets was approved by over 57 per cent of the electorate in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Last year, the Swiss senate rejected a motion calling for the foreign funding of mosques in the country to be banned. The idea of a nationwide ban on face veils was shot down in a German-speaking canton but approved in an Italian one.

Swiss citizens vote in referendums up to four times a year on around 15 federal proposals as part of the country’s notorious direct democratic system where supreme sovereignty resides with the people.

EA Sports FC 24

Developer: EA Vancouver, EA Romania
Publisher: EA Sports
Consoles: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox One
Rating: 3.5/5


Director: Vikas Bahl
Starring: Ajay Devgn, R. Madhavan, Jyothika, Janaki Bodiwala
Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Friday's schedule at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

GP3 qualifying, 10:15am

Formula 2, practice 11:30am

Formula 1, first practice, 1pm

GP3 qualifying session, 3.10pm

Formula 1 second practice, 5pm

Formula 2 qualifying, 7pm

Dates for the diary

To mark Bodytree’s 10th anniversary, the coming season will be filled with celebratory activities:

  • September 21 Anyone interested in becoming a certified yoga instructor can sign up for a 250-hour course in Yoga Teacher Training with Jacquelene Sadek. It begins on September 21 and will take place over the course of six weekends.
  • October 18 to 21 International yoga instructor, Yogi Nora, will be visiting Bodytree and offering classes.
  • October 26 to November 4 International pilates instructor Courtney Miller will be on hand at the studio, offering classes.
  • November 9 Bodytree is hosting a party to celebrate turning 10, and everyone is invited. Expect a day full of free classes on the grounds of the studio.
  • December 11 Yogeswari, an advanced certified Jivamukti teacher, will be visiting the studio.
  • February 2, 2018 Bodytree will host its 4th annual yoga market.
Pros and cons of BNPL


  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely


  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation 2 to 5
Rating: 5/5

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

The Genius of Their Age

Author: S Frederick Starr
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 290
Available: January 24

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

If you go


Despite the extreme distance, flying to Fairbanks is relatively simple, requiring just one transfer in Seattle, which can be reached directly from Dubai with Emirates for Dh6,800 return.



Gondwana Ecotours’ seven-day Polar Bear Adventure starts in Fairbanks in central Alaska before visiting Kaktovik and Utqiarvik on the North Slope. Polar bear viewing is highly likely in Kaktovik, with up to five two-hour boat tours included. Prices start from Dh11,500 per person, with all local flights, meals and accommodation included; 


Creator: Netflix

Stars: Kris Fade, Ebraheem Al Samadi, Zeina Khoury

Rating: 2/5

The years Ramadan fell in May





UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
WWE Super ShowDown results

Seth Rollins beat Baron Corbin to retain his WWE Universal title

Finn Balor defeated Andrade to stay WWE Intercontinental Championship

Shane McMahon defeated Roman Reigns

Lars Sullivan won by disqualification against Lucha House Party

Randy Orton beats Triple H

Braun Strowman beats Bobby Lashley

Kofi Kingston wins against Dolph Zigggler to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Mansoor Al Shehail won the 50-man Battle Royal

The Undertaker beat Goldberg


Fight card

1. Featherweight 66kg: Ben Lucas (AUS) v Ibrahim Kendil (EGY)

2. Lightweight 70kg: Mohammed Kareem Aljnan (SYR) v Alphonse Besala (CMR)

3. Welterweight 77kg:Marcos Costa (BRA) v Abdelhakim Wahid (MAR)

4. Lightweight 70kg: Omar Ramadan (EGY) v Abdimitalipov Atabek (KGZ)

5. Featherweight 66kg: Ahmed Al Darmaki (UAE) v Kagimu Kigga (UGA)

6. Catchweight 85kg: Ibrahim El Sawi (EGY) v Iuri Fraga (BRA)

7. Featherweight 66kg: Yousef Al Husani (UAE) v Mohamed Allam (EGY)

8. Catchweight 73kg: Mostafa Radi (PAL) v Ahmed Abdelraouf of Egypt (EGY)

9.  Featherweight 66kg: Jaures Dea (CMR) v Andre Pinheiro (BRA)

10. Catchweight 90kg: Tarek Suleiman (SYR) v Juscelino Ferreira (BRA)

The biog

Name: Dhabia Khalifa AlQubaisi

Age: 23

How she spends spare time: Playing with cats at the clinic and feeding them

Inspiration: My father. He’s a hard working man who has been through a lot to provide us with everything we need

Favourite book: Attitude, emotions and the psychology of cats by Dr Nicholes Dodman

Favourit film: 101 Dalmatians - it remind me of my childhood and began my love of dogs 

Word of advice: By being patient, good things will come and by staying positive you’ll have the will to continue to love what you're doing


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

England ODI squad

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

Most Read
Top Videos

View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London