Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Swiss Culture War: Ban On Minarets

Well, this is an interesting story. The Swiss people, the ones who reflexively think of Americans as "bigots" or "racists," have just voted to ban "minarets" from being constructed on Mosques in Switzerland. Quel surprise! The polls said it only had 37% support, but it appears that people lied to the pollsters.

We've been here before, and to see Switzerland going through this is dismaying. In a free society, any religion can build any place of worship they like, subject to secular/cultural legal codes. The cultural aspect is the most chafing, because people are attached to the architecture of their habitat. Some may see minarets as a physical threat to that part of their culture.

Here in the US, there is no law against minarets. Muslims are free to build Mosques in any way they want, and they have. They have also adapted other buildings to this use, as all religions have done in this country. I understand that the Swiss don't have as diverse a population as the US, but their government acts as if it is the "perfectly secular state."

That's why this "news flash" is important. The opposition isn't from zealous Christians, but from gay activists, atheists, and women's rights advocates. The Swiss are re-learning that they still need the support of the people, which they don't have. The EU is going to step in and "fix" this, supposedly.

They're in for a rough ride. Whether the EU bureaucrats prevail, reversing the minaret ban, or not, this is part of a larger cultural wave throughout Europe. If we are free, we have to assert freedom for all who live under our laws. Let Muslims build mosques, but forbid sharia law, except where it comports with Western civil and criminal law.

I disagree with Switzerland's ban on minarets, but understand why they voted for it. There are larger issues at work here, and the Swiss people are "sending a message," politically. Was it "bigoted," "racist," or "anti-Islamic?" Or was it "pro-secular Swiss?" The answer lies in the cultural realm. Gay, atheist, and women's rights advocates are in confrontation with Islamic culture. This is just the latest front in that confrontation.

Would Switzerland allow a Christian group to build several huge new churches, in the style of St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome? Probably not, and not just because there is no demand for it. Europe sees such displays of religious-inspired architecture as a relic of the past. They associate it with corruption and oppression, which is precisely why they voted against the minarets.

Here is the reporting I found on this:

Swiss Ban Mosque Minarets in Surprise Vote - ABC News

Swiss Approve Constitutional Ban on Mosque Minarets ...

Swiss voters back minaret ban: report Reuters

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Switzerland on this issue, I think all acceptable religions should be allowed to design and build the places of worship that are appropriate to their religion. But like you say maybe there are higher ideals afoot here. The whole world is as mad as hatter it would appear!

Would just like to thank you again for your post at AO today. In case you hadn't checked the responses there was only that one negative, the rest, including me, were very appreciative. As you can imagine, some fans are very...erm sensitive right now, and I hope that can be forgiven. I wouldnt want you to get the impression that all are completely batshit crazy :)
(aka Lamberkitten)