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Switzerland bans the minaret

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

All muslims are Taliban, Islamophobia is the new anti-Semitism, and Shari’a is the new Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That’s the operational reality that muslims in Europe must acknowledge, in the wake of a referendum to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland:

stoppJa

In a vote that displayed a widespread anxiety about Islam and undermined the country’s reputation for religious tolerance, the Swiss on Sunday overwhelmingly imposed a national ban on the construction of minarets, the prayer towers of mosques, in a referendum drawn up by the far right and opposed by the government.

The referendum, which passed with a clear majority of 57.5 percent of the voters and in 22 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, was a victory for the right. The vote against was 42.5 percent. Because the ban gained a majority of votes and passed in a majority of the cantons, it will be added to the Constitution.

The Swiss Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but the rightist Swiss People’s Party, or S.V.P., and a small religious party had proposed inserting a single sentence banning the construction of minarets, leading to the referendum.

The campaign for the ban was explicitly racist, with imagery of a burka-clad woman in front of a field of missile-like minarets rising from the Swiss flag. The rhetoric was no less offensive, with SVP leaders claiming that minarets were a symbol of “the political will to take power” (my emphasis) and radical feminists making common cause with the right-wing out of fears that “If we give them a minaret, they’ll have us all wearing burqas… we’ll have Sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets.”

Note that the direct accusation here is that all muslims in Switzerland were complicit in a grand conspiracy to undermine Swiss culture and remake it in the image of the Taliban. This, despite the fact that muslims in Switzerland are only 5% of the population, 90% of them hailing from Turkey and Kosovo and already highly Europeanized and culturally assimilated. Michael Totten’s first-hand report from his travels in Kosovo gives an exellent overview about the cultural and religious sensibilities of muslims from these regions; the menacing burka-clad woman in the SVPs campaign propaganda was as alien to the Swiss muslims as their non-muslims fellow citizens.

The irony of the ban is that it was sold as a means to prevent extremist Islam from taking root in Switzerland, but if anything actually increases that risk by sending a clear message to muslims that they are not welcome members of civic society. For its part, the Swiss muslim community has sought to downplay the vote, shunning interviews with foreign muslim media organizations and seeking to maintain a low profile. The challenge for them will be to weather the storm of increased Islamophobia that the racist campaign stoked and exploited – a burden that they would have borne regardless of the outcome of the vote. And they must now be extra vigilant that their own do not respond to this deliberate provocation by hardening their hearts against their nation and their fellow citizens. It’s easy to turn inwards and dwell in bitterness and humiliation, but it’s more important to look forward.

The simple truth is that Islam will grow and thrive in Europe over time. Even without minarets. If anything the muslims in Switzerland should accept the ban as a challenge and innovate mosque architecture to comply with the ban, and assert their Islamic and Swiss identities proudly. In this they might draw inspiration from their German counterparts, whose stunning and innovative mosque designs are a form of “confrontational architecture“. Europe’s long legacy of religious intolerance and oppression, is what gave birth to the freedoms that until now the Swiss nation had enshrined as core values; In much the same way, this modern persecution is the impetus that muslims in Europe must accept as a challenge to perpetuate and protect those very same values and freedoms.

Related: Yasir Qadhi’s superb, must-read article on the minaret ban which really drives home the hypocrisy of the West, and Michael Totten’s afore-mentioned piece, “The (Really) Moderate Muslims of Kosovo“. Also see my earlier essay on the threat to religious freedom in Europe, about not just the swiss minarets issue but also the proposed ban on mosques in Italy and the controversy over a mosque in Cologne, Germany.



  • http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/ Yakoub Islam

    I listened to BBC Radio 4 reporting on it the other day — an MP supporting the ban was able to assert the demographic lie (they’ll be more of them than us by 2050 coz they breed like rabbits) without challenge from the journalist or comparable counter argument from another source. Disgraceful.

  • Afterlife

    1) The Swiss can decide what they want in their own country.
    And supposed freedoms which Europeans always tout be damned, huh? Freedom as long as you do what I say you can do. That makes perfect sense.
    2) In the last 60 years, how many churches have been constructed in the muslim countries? Zero!!
    Really?
    http://www.dailyfrappe.com/Default.aspx?TabId=36&articleType=ArticleView&articleId=58&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2007/03/2008525184821608334.html
    This after a 30 second google search. Perhaps you should not be so intellectually lazy and dishonest in the future.
    3) In the last 60 years, how many mosques have been constructed in Europe? Thousands!!
    4) Every islamic commentator speaks about “discrimination”!!!!
    Then what would you call this?
    5) When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Are the muslims in Europe listening?
    I suppose you are telling the Christian workers who migrate to Arab countries for work purposes the exact same thing, no? They should accept Islam and adopt Arabic and never speak Tagalag, English, French, etc. Idiot.

  • Your Name

    Prof:
    1. Many of those muslims in Switzerland ARE Swiss citizens. Are they not entitled to relgious freed. Some, in fact, have served in the armed forces of Switzerland. When are they entitled to equal treatment?
    2. If Muslim countries (which ones do you mean? Can you give an authoritative source for this claim?) don’t allow religious freedom, is that a reason for the Swiss to abandon their tolerant values? If you allow ‘the enemy’ to frighten you into abandoning your values, how strongly are those values held? And I’m fairly sure that in Turkey and the Balkans, which is where most Swiss muslims originate, you’ll find Christian churches.
    3. Would that be because the Christians in Europe are less fervent nowadays and the muslims are decent, mosque-going people? All societies, over time, see changes in the religious and ethnic composition of their people. There was a time when Switzerland was inhabited entirely by Catholics. Protestants once were the persecuted minority, and in theri turn have dome some persecuting.
    4. Every Islamic commentator speaks about discrimination? If that is true, and I’d be interested to know where ‘every ‘ commentator comes from? Switzerland, Europe? The world? You have read them all? Really? and they all say the same thing? Hmmm, well if so, maybe it’s true.
    5. Do you expect the muslims who move to Switzerland to dress in lederhosen and grow large moustaches? Do you expect them to bleach their hair blonde and plait it, and call their children Heidi and Hans? Other countries who are strong enough in themselves to accept the differences in others that can be seen on the surface have found that the samenesses are much greater in number, and more significant.
    Don’t be afraid, but reach out to your fellow human beings. You will be enriched, I assure you.

  • Your Name

    THE 2ND POINT “Prof Aighedd” MENTIONED IS ENTIRELY WRONG,THERE IS LOTS OF CHURCHES BUILT IN U A E.U CAN MAKE IT SURE BY SEARCHING IN THE INTERNET
    3RD POINT”Prof Aighedd” IS ALSO WRONG ,MOSQUES HVE BEEN BUILT IN EUROPE ,BUT NOT THOUSANDS MAY BE A 100,THT TOO APPROXIMATELY

  • interpreter

    May God bless the Swiss.

  • http://watchandlisten.spaces.live.com Your Name

    Divided we stand and Divided we fall, so much rubbish about churches and mosques, Allah/God is not made of stone, His church and His mosque is in your Hearts. Everything else is politics.
    If someone wants to build whatever to Him, let them build them in the way that suits the country, after all Allah was not an Arab was He?
    It doesnt have to have minarets does it?
    Just because someone built them in other countries,
    Allah knows the intent of those who build, and that is what matters,
    So please cut out the politics.

  • J. Kactuz

    It is so touching to see a Muslim complain about bigotry. This from a people that discriminate everywhere they dominate.
    The minarets are harmless – but not Muslims. They preach hate and violence. They just don’t preach it, they do it. They believe in a god that delights in torture (Or maybe skinning people alive and pouring burning oil down a throat, as it says in the Quran, is ok). They follow a man called Mohammud, that according to Islam’s own traditions, attacked, plundered, killed, raped, enslaved men women and children, raped and even beat his 9 year-old wife. Even so the Quran says this man is a “moral” example to follow. Even the so-called nice good Muslims except these things.
    Note also that everywhere Islam dominates it discriminates and oppresses. In case you haven’t noticed, Muslims do not accept freedom of speech and religion nor separation of religion and state. oor maybe you have noticed the human rights situation in islamic societies.
    This isn’t hate or islamophobia; it is speaking out against an oppressive ideology. For years the West has been nice to Islam and Muslims and we have gotten nothing but hate and violence in return. Muslims refuse to look at the ugly issues in their religion. We need to draw a line in the sand and tell them that they must stop their hate, discrimination and violence.
    Oh yes, they can still build their mosques to worshop their moon god and bow to their rock in Mecca. The Swiss ban was just to let them know that we are tired of their tantrums.
    Kactuz

  • Your Name

    The answer is a question. Why after any one of this random acts of violence doesn’t a Muslim leader come out and condemn the act? Why? How about after 911. Did anyone hear a condemnation? How about the Beslan school killings in Russia. They killed over 1100 people. 3/4 of them children. Where was the outcry from the Muslim community? Did anyone hear one?
    Why is that? Is it because the Muslim community was happy that the Godless Christian and Jews got what was coming to them?……..
    Here is an idea. Go back to your country of origin and have all the minarets you can take.
    Come on Muslims, someone from the leadership come out and denounce these senseless, mindless terrorist killings. Make us think you disapprove. You might get alot more tolerance. Meanwhile, way to go Swiss. I would check your car before you start it, though.

  • Stanley

    The people of Switzerland have the right to rule their country the way they see fit. The Muslims always complain when the perpetual bogeyman the “West” interferes with their doings. This shows their hypocrisy.

  • eka

    I agree the votes are bias and may be even a racist, but not hateful.
    When I see the Southeast Asia women country cover their face because of Muslim Religious in their country, I feel sad, because that was not their culture or inheritage. They have lost most of their culture and inheritage to Muslim culture, despite many landmarks of their inheritage is displacing through out their country. So Switzerland should and must proactive to protect their culture and inheritage from insensitive and aggressive spreading of Muslim before they take over their culture and country like it has taken over Malaysia and her neighbors.

  • eka

    The decision to build minarets during the time that most of the world views Muslim Religious as scarily religious, and these views are rightly so, because most of terrorists are Muslim men. It’s insensitive by Muslim leadership to build a new minarets right now.
    I’m annoying and finding very hypocrisy by the outcry from Muslim countries on this matter, but yet when young Muslim men are becoming a terrorist and committed a suicide bomber, or when the Muslim believers had destroyed the heritage of Afghanistan or the unreplacable Buddha, we did not hear the same degree of their outcry or speak up, nor are the Muslims have a willing to open to other culture and religious within the middle east countries; so Muslim Community should be sensitive of other to if they want the world to be fair. In this instant is the islam principle/value and its believers hypocrisy and try to take advantage of other culture’s openness? Hypercrite.

  • Stanley

    “I agree the votes are bias and may be even a racist, but not hateful.”
    Muslims need to stop using this weak strawman. Muslims are not a race,they are a social construct. Anyone can become a Muslim, I’m “white” and I converted to Islam (eventually left). The fact is Muslims are the biggest hypocrites the world has ever known, they want everyone to appease them while they can just do whatever they want, it is insane.

  • http://www.trackibd.com/EMAIL-LISTS/switzerland-business-executives-email-lists.asp#prepackaged Switzerland Email Lists

    banning of minaret by Switzerland is a great thing…

  • http://www.trackibd.com/EMAIL-LISTS/switzerland-business-executives-email-lists.asp Switzerland Email List

    banning of minaret by Switzerland is a great thing…

  • http://www.hrexecutiveslist.com HR Email Lists

    I agree the votes….

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