Egypt's Mufti Ali Gomaa denounced a vote to ban new minarets in Switzerland on Sunday as an "insult" to Muslims across the world, while calling on Muslims not to be provoked by the move.
A solid majority of Swiss voters chose in a referendum to ban the construction of new minarets, the towers attached to mosques from which the call to prayers is announced.
"This proposal…is not considered just an attack on freedom of beliefs, but also an attempt to insult the feelings of the Muslim community in and outside Switzerland," Gomaa, the Egyptian government’s official interpreter of Islamic law, told the state-run news agency MENA.
He encouraged Switzerland’s 400,000-strong Muslim community to use "dialogue" and legal means to contest the ban, which he described as "provocative behaviour."
The rightist Swiss People’s Party (SVP) — Switzerland’s biggest party — had forced the referendum after collecting a mandatory 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months.
Gomaa also called on Muslims not to be affected "by this provocation," adding that Islam "considers humanity a single family."
Egypt is the most populous Arab country and was at the forefront of a backlash against Denmark in 2006 after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed.