Swiss minister: The minaret ban is aimed at fundamentalists, not all Muslims

posted at 8:31 pm on November 30, 2009 by Allahpundit

And yet, it targets structures used by … all Muslims.

A top Swiss official said Monday that voter approval of a ban on minarets next to mosques could be struck down in court, as critics at home and abroad swiftly condemned the vote, saying it undermined the country’s secular image…

“The ban contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights,” Zurich daily Blick cited Widmer-Schlumpf as saying. Switzerland currently presides over the European Court of Human Rights, which rules on breaches of the convention…

Arriving at a meeting of European Union justice ministers, Widmer-Schlumpf argued the vote was not “a referendum against Islam … but a vote directed against fundamentalist developments.”

She defended the referendum as being “about minarets and not, of course, about the Islamic community,” she said. “We are interested in a multi-religious society in Switzerland.”

What’s weird about this is that, for an act of religious discrimination, it’s oddly restrained. They didn’t vote to ban the construction of new mosques; they didn’t vote to demand that the four mosques in the country that already have minarets remove them. They banned construction of new minarets, presumably as a warning to Swiss Muslims that cultural assertiveness — symbolized by the height and visibility of the towers, I guess — will be challenged going forward. It’s the architectural equivalent of banning the burqa (and indeed, per the front-page screenshot, a woman in a burqa was pictured on ads supporting the referendum). But if the goal is assimilation or, at the very least, quiescence, how likely is it to achieve that goal? Says the Journal:

There is no denying the connection between radical imams and terrorist acts. Nor should anyone look away from the fact that too many European Muslims flatly reject the norms of their host countries, sometimes in ways that are criminal: honor killings, child brides and the like.

Yet banning minarets does nothing to address that fear. It merely makes it less likely that the average Swiss will be confronted by a visible symbol of Islam upon his skyline. Thus, even as a symbolic gesture, it seems to encourage a head-in-the-sand approach toward the 5% of Swiss who are Muslim. In much of Europe, this is the norm anyway, the result of political correctness and cowardice.

Rather than being a blow against that attitude, Sunday’s vote seems only to reinforce it.

I don’t think it’s a head-in-the-sand approach, I think it’s a minimalist approach: They know they’re discriminating, and in order to reconcile that as best they can with Enlightenment values, they’re going to discriminate as little and as cosmetically as possible. (Needless to say, the referendum would be grossly unconstitutional in the U.S.) LauraW and DrewM make the point at Ace’s site that this is, to some extent, a populist reaction to European bureaucrats papering over cultural differences with Muslims for fear of giving offense, but I wonder what the Swiss are looking for in concrete terms. Muslim emigration from Switzerland? If that happens, neighboring countries will move quickly to enact bans of their own. What if the Muslim population of Switzerland continues to rise? Would that warrant a ban on new mosques, or something worse? And what if jihadis decide to target Switzerland now? Does that warrant extending the ban or repealing it in fear? A lot of players are suddenly in motion here, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the discrimination doesn’t gradually get much worse.

Exit question: If you’re going to make a move like this, why not at least tie it to the sort of discrimination non-Muslims routinely experience in the Muslim world? E.g., “One new minaret will be permitted for every church built in Saudi Arabia”? At least that way the scrutiny is shared.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Just curious…would anyone be having these discussions or would there even been a topic here on Hot Air if a Muslim nation banned Christian or other religion`s symbols from a Muslim country?

Or would it be, “Oh they are a Muslim country, its okay, they can ban Christian and other religion`s symbols”.

albill on December 1, 2009 at 6:41 AM

No Muslim is being told they must abandon their relgiion or practice of such in Switzerland, by Switzerland.

It’s the towers (or minarets) that the voters of Switzerland decided they didn’t want to see in Switzerland.

Those towers were/are designed for the sole purpose of providing a stand from whence “the Muslim call to prayer” five times a day could be exclaimed to the public.

Since most Muslims and everyone else has watches toeday and clocks at home, etc., they can easily determine when they are to go to a mosque (or anywhere else).

The TOWERS serve no other purpose than to boom out that call to prayer, and in a non-Muslim majority enviromment, it’s intrusive to some. I agree with that…

But this is a great example of just how it is that Muslims rage against any small act that any others take to assert their own cultures and beliefs. If a Muslim wants to live in Switzerland, live there legally if possible but don’t set out to change the place into Baghdad.

I repeat, Switzerland has not placed restrictions on Muslims practicing their beliefs. They’re just restricting building these towers in Switzerland.

Having been there and having ancestors there, the views are of primary importance and worth/value to the Swiss, and, it’s a small country geographically. I think their ban on minarets is smart and should be respected.

Lourdes on December 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

Switzerland still maintains a voting process that allows citizens to vote on referendum issues, such as this ban on minarets.

The Swiss voted on their own behalf about their own country. Their decision needs to be respected.

Lourdes on December 1, 2009 at 6:58 AM

Exit answer: Building codes. Plain & simple. The existing minarets aren’t banned. Worship isn’t banned. Immigration isn’t banned.

Building codes discriminate, and rightly so. Problem solved.

It’s why there’s no church steeples in Saudi Arabia.

locomotivebreath1901 on December 1, 2009 at 8:56 AM

Can you provide context or sources to your statements?

disillusioned on December 1, 2009 at 2:20 AM

Google “sweden rape muslim”, dude.

venividivici on December 1, 2009 at 9:04 AM

might there be a Muslim commenter to disagree with any previous post, or is this a one-sided conversation?

disillusioned on December 1, 2009 at 3:00 AM

Even if I was a Muslim myself, I’d say the same things about Islam, because I arrive at conclusions by reason, not tradition or because my parents or the society in which I grew up told me something. Any reasonable person should be for the elimination of the ideology known as “Islam” from this planet.

venividivici on December 1, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Building codes discriminate, and rightly so. Problem solved.

It’s why there’s no church steeples in Saudi Arabia.

locomotivebreath1901 on December 1, 2009 at 8:56 AM

Nope, sorry, wrong. In Saudi Arabia it has NOTHING to do with ‘building codes’. They strictly forbid the worship of any other religion besides Islam. Look it up.

bridgetown on December 1, 2009 at 9:57 AM

I think it’s a minimalist approach

Hilarious. Whenever anybody tries to keep the Ten Commandments out of a court house, it’s a WAR ON CHRISTIANS. When a Christmas tree in a public space has to stand next to other religious displays, it’s a WAR ON CHRISTMAS.

When Muslims can’t build houses of worship in the style they wish – in a way that does no harm to anyone – it’s a “minimalist approach”.

Got it.

orange on December 1, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Aim it All at ALL of Islam.
Before they destroy Civilization.

old trooper2 on December 1, 2009 at 12:47 PM

Perhaps if Islam didn’t preach such violence to ALL muslims, fundamentalist or not, then we wouldn’t have to have this dicussion.
Notice there aren’t huge mobs of rampaging murderous Jews & Christians all over the world vowing to kill unbelievers.
The Swiss may be starting to wake up, but it may be too late.
And is the world’s moderate muslims did a better job of cleaning up their own internal conflicitng mess, then this crap wouldn’t be necessary.
No-all of Islam basically agrees with getting rid of infidels-they just differ a little in how to accomplish that feat.

Badger40 on December 1, 2009 at 2:01 PM

When Muslims can’t build houses of worship in the style they wish – in a way that does no harm to anyone – it’s a “minimalist approach”.

Got it.

orange on December 1, 2009 at 11:53 AM

When a political ideology masks itself as a religion (a very violent & intolerant one)- anything they say or do is suspect.
Any ‘religion’ that demands the subjugation or death of one who will not convert should be banned in all freedom-loving countries.
Islam is not a religion. Only of death.
Read the Koran that is their unholy text and you will be enlightened.

Badger40 on December 1, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Their country. They can discriminate as much as they want to against the Islamic takeover of Europe. There is nothing wrong with preserving your own culture by banning aspects of other cultures in your own community.

discojoe on December 1, 2009 at 3:34 PM