The ban on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland does not mean that the Swiss people are against Muslims, it means that they are against radical political Islam. The nationalist Swiss People’s Party campaigned against the construction of new a religious building with posters of a women covered by a black burqa. At her back, on the ground, is a Swiss flag stabbed by several missile-like minarets. It couldnot be more eloquent: the SVP claimed that minarets are not religious but political symbols and are therefore unconstitutional.
However, the ban brought many fingers pointing at the Swiss people’s faces: they were called racists. But these are the same Swiss that – in the name of pluralism – comfortably fit four different languages, nationalities and religions, including Islam, together in the same State.
Foreign French Minister, Bernard Kouchner called the ban “a manifestation of intolerance”. Swedish politicians (currently chairing EU) said that the “minaret ban” is an expression of prejudice. The Swedish Immigration Minister, Tobias Billstrom, said, “funny, such things are determined by referendum in Switzerland. In my country, they are decided on by local town planners.” Even the UN human rights watchdog raised concerns, according to them, the ban “violates the rights of observant Muslims to manifest their religion in public.” Finally, the Egyptian Gran Mufti, Ali Gomaa, said about the Swiss ban: “It’s an insult to all Muslims.”
What these people fail to grasp, though, is that the Swiss are not against Muslims. They seldom take stands against something or someone and this case is no exception. The Swiss are well-informed and, when in the need of an important decision, they usually go back to study.
They did this time too, and found that minarets throughout Europe are becoming political symbols, and that radical Imams are preaching Islam’s moral and political supremacy.
This is what 57% of Swiss people voted against on November 29. The Swiss people are against the segregationand hanging of gay people, a permanent state of war [“Dar al-Harb”] against Jews and Christians, and the annihilation of every other religion. They are against human bombs, genital mutilation of women, stoning people to death, the limitations on women’s freedom — and the religious duty to impose these on others. Inshort: they are against Sharia Law.
According to the SVP lawmaker, Oskar Freysinger, the minarets reflect demand for political power: “If it’s really just something decorative and secondary to them, why are they clinging so tightly to that symbol? It’s a strong symbol for them, it’s to show their territorial hold and I think for now, we’d rather not have that in our country”. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Women’s rights advocate, author of Infidel, says that, in the battle of ideas, symbols are important: “…what Europeans are finding out about Islam as they investigate is that it is more than just a religion. Islam offers not only a spiritual framework for dealing with such human questions as birth, death, and what ought to come after this world; it prescribes a way of life.” [Emphasis added.]
Swiss people are not racist; one could argue that to some extent they are among the less-racist citizens of this planet. Have a walk in the streets of Zurich or Geneva and take a closer look: You can spot Orthodox Jews inZurich, walking around the streets of the Wiedikon district. They mind their own business and live together with Christians, Muslims, atheists and whomever comes around. With over 20% of the Swiss population consisting of foreigners, cross-culture is a key word, and pluralism is essential. But it is no wonder that they would be against the construction of new minarets; as Hirsi Ali wrote, “…Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual’s relationship to the state; the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword. The minaret is a symbol of Islamist supremacy, a token of domination that came to symbolize Islamic conquest.”
Europe is a tolerant place: If it were not, Muslims would have started leaving years ago, instead of continuing to pour in from abroad, often risking their lives to do so. They are welcome to come and stay, as long as they do nottry to impose their values on the house of their hosts. Muslims could lead the way toward a painless integration in Europe — if they wished. We have our own values: the separation of religion and State being one of the most important. Perhaps they might have noticed that.
Andrea Loquenzi Holzer