Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss ban minarets

In a stunning vote held today, the Swiss have banned construction of all new minarets by a 57-43 margin.

I would have expected the referendum to go down in a close vote. Although the article doesn't mention it, I'm sure the German-speaking part passed the ban overwhelmingly, with the French- and Italian-speaking parts narrowly defeated it.

Just last week polling indicated that only 37% were prepared to vote for the ban, with another 10% undecided. I guess this is another instance of citizens not responding honestly to pollers when asked a PC-type question.

This result doesn't mean that no more mosques can be built, only that minarets, which are usually attached to mosques to call the faithful to prayer, can no longer be built.

Although it can be thought of a a simple dispute over national zoning rules, for the Swiss (and Europe) it has deeper implications. Many Muslim leaders continue to bank in Switzerland, and Swiss banks have been very responsive of their Middle Eastern clients' needs and preferences. This result will doubtless lead to calls for a boycott and strained diplomatic relations.

For Europe. this is a shot across the bow of multi-culti accommodationists and a slap down to Islamist political ambitions, as the minaret is seen by some as a symbol of rising Islamic power in Europe. A Swiss commentator called it a proxy war:
Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf had argued strongly against a ban on minaret construction.

"The initiative is a kind of 'proxy war'. Its supporters say they are against minarets. But they want to fight what they consider creeping Islamicisation and sharia law," she said ahead of the vote.
I thought the ban too draconian, and the characterization of minarets as laden with symbolism as too paranoid, however, this is a valid -- if heavy handed -- response to Islamic fundamentalism in Europe.

Nevertheless, the Swiss are clearly leading the rest of Europe in pushing back against multi-culti values and rising fundamentalism.

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