Swiss voters back ban on minarets
Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets, official results show.
More than 57% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban.
The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which says minarets are a sign of Islamisation.
The government opposed the ban, saying it would harm Switzerland's image, particularly in the Muslim world. [emphasis added]
In other words, the government is opposed to the measure out of fear of 'The Arab Street'. But the voters apparently are afraid of the immigration of Muslims and the Islamization of Switzerland.
Although there are only 4 minarets in Switzerland, there are 400,000 Muslims--and Islam is the most widespread religion there after Christianity.
Yet, in spite of the passing of the referendum, the BBC reports that Amnesty International says this is a violation of freedom of religion, and they expected that either the Swiss Supreme Court of the European Court of Human Rights will overturn the vote. Apparently no one is too upset that in Saudi Arabia only one religion is recognized...
But what I thought was interesting is what was posted on Joshuapundit about minarets in general:
A ban on minarets is very different than a ban on mosques. Minarets, which Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan aptly referred to as 'Muslim Bayonets' are designed expressly to show Islamic dominance and have a quite different effect from the ringing of church bells on Sunday. The minarets are designed to tower over most buildings in a neighborhood, and the muzzeins use highly amplified loud speakers to blast out the adhan, the Muslim call to prayer five times daily. And the wording of the Adhan trumpets the superiority of Islam over all other religions:
Keep in mind that according to The Times, there are noise regulations in Switzerland that prevent the minarets from being used for its traditional function of calling the faithful to prayer. The same article also notes that Switzerland is not alone:
A similar battle has been raging in Germany over plans to build one of Europe’s biggest mosques in the shadow of Cologne cathedral. The Danes are also locked in debate over plans for two grand mosques in Copenhagen.
In an initiative that would please Switzerland’s antiminaret campaigners, an Italian town seized the headlines last week by putting up signs banning women from wearing the burqa in public.
In any case, this issue should make for an interesting discussion on drawing the line between freedom of religion and preserving ethnic identity. Hisham Maizer, the president of the Swiss Federation of Islamic Organisations, is quoted as saying “the debate about Islam is only just beginning.”
Many would say it is long overdue.
UPDATE: Daniel Pipes writes that
the 57.5 to 42.5 percent vote represents a possible turning point for European Islam, one comparable to the Rushdie affair of 1989. That a large majority of those Swiss who voted on Sunday explicitly expressed anti-Islamic sentiments potentially legitimates such sentiments across Europe and opens the way for others to follow suit. That it was the usually quiet, low-profile, un-newsworthy, politically boring, neutral Swiss who suddenly roared their fears about Islam only enhances their votes' impact.
I'm assuming the turning point Pipes is referring to is when the pendulum swung towards accommodation of 'Muslim sensitivities--a process that 20 years later has reached it's zenith and is now in the process of reversing direction.
Even so, the impact of the last 20 years will not be undone, and the consequences are barely being discussed.
UPDATE2: Robin Shepard writes:
The move is likely to provoke the kind of mass confrontation that followed the publication of a series of cartoons in Denmark in 2005 which linked the Prophet Mohammed to terrorism. In the months that followed, more than 100 people died in unrest across the Muslim world, Danish embassies and shops were burned to the ground and protests erupted by Muslim groups in Europe calling for the censorship of opinions considered insulting to Islam.
It is far too early to draw conclusions about today’s unfolding events in Switzerland and I will comment later when the situation becomes clearer. But it looks as though a backlash against Islam in Europe by nationalist forces energised by the failures of multiculturalist orthodoxies is now really starting to take hold.
It is just such an implosion of the centre-ground in favour of polarising groups on either side that has long been predicted by critics of politically correct, multiculturalist ideology. In other words, if mainstream parties refused to deal with the problem of intolerance and bigotry inside Muslim groups in a civilised manner, it was inevitable that fringe groups would deal with the problem in an uncivilised manner, all the while garnering ever greater support from a wider public disillusioned by the way things have been going. There’s more of this to come. You can rely on it.
Germany, Denmark, and Italy are mentioned as countries where similar steps are being taken--when we hear news like this from Great Britain, then I'll be impressed.
Crossposted on Soccer Dad