December 5, 2009

No Fingers Weaving Quick Minarets

Justin Katz

You've seen this news, I imagine:

Swiss voters on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets, barring construction of the iconic mosque towers in a surprise move that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population.

Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as biased and anti-Islamic. Business groups said the decision hurts Switzerland's international standing and could damage relations with Muslim nations and wealthy investors who bank, travel and shop there.

The entire world is condemning the result, and I certainly don't support the action. I do, however, support the right of the Swiss to take it.

A point of intolerable repression exists, of course, but if we cannot distinguish banning a particular type of religious structure from, say, unjust imprisonment, then relativism has numbed our moral senses. People have a right to shape their communities, and they have a right to differ on the appropriate means of preserving their cultures.

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Try building a church in Saudi Arabia or any one of a number of Islamic sewers.
Tolerance is a two way street.Good for the Swiss!!
Note:They didn't ban mosques,just minarets,the in your face addition to a mosque.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 5, 2009 4:37 PM

I actually feel the same way. Let people do whatever they want with their own communities, write their own rules, ban whatever they want. I would strongly oppose any retaliatory action on our part.

That being said, it would be nice if there were at least some inhabitable place in the world where one could live and not be violently lorded over by some government telling you how you can and cannot live your life (Somalia does have government to head off that talking point). Beyond that, I couldn't care less what other people choose for their own societies.

Posted by: Dan at December 5, 2009 5:28 PM

I say good for the Swiss! The voters of Switzerland voted to protect their cultural heritage and architecture.

“The initiative was approved 57.5 to 42.5 percent by some 2.67 million voters. Only four of the 26 cantons or states opposed the initiative, granting the double approval that makes it part of the Swiss constitution.

Muslims comprise about 6 percent of Switzerland's 7.5 million people. Many are refugees from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and about one in 10 actively practices their religion, the government says.

The country's four standing minarets, which won't be affected by the ban, do not traditionally broadcast the call to prayer outside their own buildings.”

Honolulu, HI has one mosque and I don’t know if it has a minaret as it is tucked back in the Manoa Valley behind the University of Hawaii and I have not driven out there to see if it does. There are reportedly over 4,000 practicing Muslims on Oahu. Many are university students, military or work at the East West Center established by US Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. There are many from various parts of the world from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and from the Middle East at the East West Center.

Hawaii General Assembly passed a resolution to proclaim Sept. 24, 2009, as “Islam Day” marked by resolution as is “Confucius Day”, which do not become part of state law or recur annually. Hawaii already designates the following religious holidays: Asian Lunar New Year Commemoration Week, Bodhi Day, Buddha Day, Baha'i New Year's Day, Christmas, Confucius Day, Father Damien De Veuster Day, Good Friday and Makahiki Commemoration Day.

There was immediate mainland condemnation of Hawaii for the resolution just like the out pouring against Switzerland for their public vote against additional minarets.

Hawaii as a state has the right to enact resolutions and laws within it’s boarders out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean just as Switzerland voters have the same right as a country to do the same.

Hawaii is very different than the mainland in that everyone is considered an ethnic minority here. There are no ethnic majorities. The same is held true with religions as all are practiced in Hawaii. There are no ethnic neighborhoods and everyone rich or poor lives intertwined together regardless of financial status, ethnic and religious faith. Over 40 languages are spoken in Oahu daily however the official state language is Hawaiian and English. Living on an island teaches dependence on your neighbors and the environment adding new meaning to the old saying; “No man is an island!”

State of Hawaii is a true American melting pot whose population has a lot of tolerance, offers a fantastic learning experience and the year-round sunny warm weather is great too! Glad I moved out of RI!

Posted by: Ken at December 5, 2009 8:42 PM

I'm with the Swiss 100% and it's high time that a country show their national pride and protect what they perceive as a threat to national sovereignty as a people.

I think this is where America needs to take the next U-turn and revisit our past. Not to oppress any peoples but to raise our level of consciousness and make us realize once again what made this country so grand.

The US seems to be a country dividing itself into separate groups instead of multiple groups united for the cause of American good.

My grandparents were Americans, not Portuguese-Americans, but Americans.

Bravo to the Swiss for trying to keep their country homogeneous.

Posted by: Roland at December 5, 2009 11:10 PM

"We don't have anything against Muslims," said Oskar Freysinger, member of parliament for the Swiss People's Party.

"But we don't want minarets. The minaret is a symbol of a political and aggressive Islam, it's a symbol of Islamic law. The minute you have minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over."
by Imogen Foulkes for BBC News

The Swiss People's Party or S.V.P. is the Swiss Parliments largest party and is rightist.

I think that every one of us does not need to be reminded of what happened in Europe when rightist Nationalist governments sought to "preserve their cultures" in the last century.. It also reminds me of the senseless destruction of ancient statues of Buddha in Afganistan by the Taliban. The difference being that while the destruction of art and culture, and of history was performed by the Taliban for the purpose of removing any symbol that was not Islamic, thereby "preserving their culture", what the Swiss have done with their ban of the construction of minarets is what amounts to an architectural abortion for the same reason.

Posted by: Phil at December 6, 2009 5:20 PM

This continent was a lot more homogeneous before the Europeans came and began the homogenization process through force of arms; but that is not my main point which is whatever happened to "Give me your tired and your poor, your hungry masses yearning to be free"?

Posted by: 0ldTimeLefty at December 7, 2009 9:38 PM

OTL-grow up,already!!That quote is a friggin' POEM on the Statue of Liberty,not a law.
Why precisely do we need the "wretched refuse of teeming shores"?Are you prepared to share your home with them?I'm not.If you say you are,put your money where your mouth is,or just stop the rant.

Posted by: joe bernstein at December 9, 2009 6:14 AM

Sorry if you were the only one misled by the quote. The saying is an exhortation, a message to the world that good people of all faiths, creeds and color are welcome here. Underlying the exhortation is the belief that these poor and hungry people, given a chance will be productive and beneficial to their society.

As to your non-sequitor conclusion, no comment is necessary to refute an inanity.

Take a Miltown or whatever it is you can get from the VA and calm down. You really don't have to check under your bed every night. I'm sure you have a firearm handy.

Your friend and fellow ex-GI

Posted by: 0ldTimeLefty at December 11, 2009 1:41 PM
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