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last updated: 30 Nov 2009- 02:30

Even fundamentalist Islamic countries did not vote about the shape of religious institutions…

It is a sad day. The referendum result made me really angry first but now sadness prevails. This is such a stupid referendum and a stupid result. Switzerland is known to be a peaceful and civilized place and whatever the reasons behind the ban, it just doesn’t fit. How come a country like Switzerland can do something like that? It is basically beyond reason. As a Swiss friend of mine, Ariane Beldi, stated in Facebook, this small, rich and civilized country declared itself to be the first officially anti-Muslim country in Europe! Discrimination against Muslims has become unashamedly constitutional… My goodness. Again in Ariane’s words “in their haste to protect the Judeo-Christian heritage against Islam, a good deal of people seem to be forgetting some essential elements of this heritage, like intellectual rigour, rationality, honnesty, tolerance, etc…”

Some Eurobloggers reacted fast and they deserve an applause. A growing roundup follows…

Swiss appear to back minaret ban

from BBC News | Europe | World Edition
Projections from exit polls suggest Swiss voters have backed a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets.

Switzerland forbids minarets in referendum: What a sad day!

by Julien Frisch

Europe in the 21st century is a multicultural continent, with multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-religions societies (including non-religious people) – and Switzerland doesn’t seem to belong to Europe today.

The Swiss have shown that they truly don’t want to belong to this continent by rejecting that minarets may be built together with mosques. They have shown to the world that they want to be a place apart from European values.

 

Switzerland Declares War on Architecture

In a shocking result, 57% of the Swiss have voted to ban mosques with minarets in their country. Both the majority of cantons and the majority of people have voted to ban the mosques, reflecting the increasingly xenophobic mood of Swiss politics.

Swiss No to minarets ?Yes to what?

by Grahnlaw

Among eurobloggers at least Julien Frisch and Gulf Stream Blues have already reacted clearly against the Swiss referendum banning minarets. Erkan?s Field Diary says it at least as forcefully in a blog post he has promised to update soon: In Switzerland, Fascism seems to be getting ground?

I wrote a comment on Julien?s blog, but thought that I might post it on Grahnlaw as well:

blogs.telegraph.co.uk
I am a paid-up fan of Swiss direct democracy. But no system is flawless, and referendums occasionally throw up silly answers. The decision by Swiss voters to outlaw the construction of minarets strikes me as regrettable on three grounds.

 

www.csmonitor.com
More than 57 percent of Swiss residents who voted Sunday ? a majority in 22 out of the country’s 26’s cantons ? approved a proposal to ban the construction of new minarets.

 

online.wsj.com
Voters in Switzerland approved a referendum to ban the construction of new minarets on mosques, defying appeals from the government to reject the proposal and raising the specter of a Muslim backlash against Swiss interests.
news.smh.com.au

Switzerland has voted to impose a blanket ban on the building of minarets across the country, backing an initiative by far-right politicians.

blogs.telegraph.co.uk
Switzerland has voted overwhelmingly to ban triumphalist minarets on Muslim mosques. On a respectable turnout of 55 per cent, there was a landslide victory for banning minarets: nearly 58 per cent for a ban, just 42 per cent against.

 

www.timesonline.co.uk
Switzerland?s cosmopolitan and sophisticated electorate voted yesterday to inflame tensions and violate religious liberty. In a referendum launched by the right-wing Swiss People?s Party, a comfortable majority supported a ban on the construction of minarets.
www.nytimes.com

Switzerland?s political right scored a surprising win, denting the nation?s image as a bastion of tolerance.

www.humanrights.ch
Plateforme d?information Humanrights.ch traitant essentiellement des conventions internationales ainsi que des nouvelles et de la politique sur les droits humains en Suisse.

 

www.rue89.com
Les Suisses ont décidé ce dimanche par référendum, à plus de 57% des votants, d’interdire la construction de minarets, selon les résultats définitifs du scrutin. Seuls quatre cantons sur les 26 que compte …

 

www.google.com
GENÈVE ? Les Suisses se sont prononcés dimanche par référendum en faveur de l’interdiction de la construction de minarets, selon des sondages sortie des urnes cités par la télévision suisse romande (TSR).

 

www.leparisien.fr
Les Suisses se sont prononcés dimanche par référendum en faveur de l’interdiction de la construction de minarets, selon des sondages sortie des…

 

www.letelegramme.com
Islam. La Suisse interdit la construction des minarets – La construction de minarets va être interdite en Suisse. Appelés à s’exprimer par référendum, plus de 57 % de nos voisins helvètes ont décidé de soutenir le texte proposé par la droite populiste….

 

blogs.aljazeera.net
Depth of support among Swiss voters for a ban on construction of minarets confounds expectations of those opposed to the proposal.

 

english.aljazeera.net

Results from referendum show that majority of voters favour ban on

Swiss vote to ban construction of minarets

from FT.com – World, Europe
Switzerland voted to ban the construction of minarets, potentially exposing the small alpine country to a backlash from the Muslim world.

Switzerland votes on minaret ban

from BBC News | Europe | World Edition

Switzerland is voting on whether to ban the building of minarets, against a background of criticism from human rights groups.

Jungfrau Zeitung – – is the Swiss referendum unconstitutional

For the complete report from the Jungfrau Zeitung click on this link

Swiss citizens are called to the polls today November 29 to vote on the popular initiative «Against the Construction of Minarets». Launched by the right-wing People?s Party and the small ultra-conservative Federal Democratic Union, the initiative has sparked controversy and a heated debate on Islam in Switzerland, human rights and integration. An online poll by Jungfrauzeitung.ch in the week ending November 22 has shown 43 percent of readers against and 55 percent in favour of a ban. The Federal Council and parliament oppose the initiative, saying that it restricts freedom of religion as anchored in the constitution, goes against the grain of Switzerland?s tradition of tolerance, endangers integration and violates the European Convention on Human Rights. The main Swiss churches and non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty International Switzerland also reject a ban on the construction of minarets.

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    • I pray (and that is a first, I usually never pray) that your analysis will converge with that of other lawyers and jurists in Switzerland and in Europe. Honestly, this result is a huge spot on our constitution and our reputation.

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  • Hi Erkan,

    I totally agree with you and I’m one of these Swiss totally appalled and ashamed by the results of these votes!

    I just would like to make a little correction. Switzerland didn’t “declare” itself to be the first officially anti-Muslim country in Europe. It has become de facto the first officially anti-Muslim country in Europe by introducing an anti-Muslim discrimination in its constitution. And I made this statement, not Swiss officials. They would never dare to do so, eventhough, deep down, they probably agree with me. This is an important nuance, because if you ask any of those Swiss citizen who approved the ban on minarets, they’ll be adamant that Switzerland isn’t anti-Muslim, that this is only Switzerland-bashing propaganda. They will try to convince you that they only want to ban a political symbol from an intolerant religion and that is enough to warrant them from any suspicion of anti-Muslim intention. If you insist, they will suspect you to be a defender of radical Islam, who wants to present Islam under a nice light and hide its true backwards, woman-hating, religiously intolerant nature! So, they aren’t anti-Muslim, it’s just Islam that is dangerous and scary! See what I mean? Trying to discuss with them is like trying to have a conversation with a robot that keeps propping error messages because it doesn’t use the same language system.

  • I would like to add another thing here that I also find quite scary. Basically, the Swiss people have shown that they have very little respect for their constitution and the pillars on which it rests, especially that of equal treatment for all and freedom of expression, including religious expression. This is quite a victory for the extreme-right wing parties of Switzerland, because they now know that they will be able to hack at our constitution, and therefore democracy, bits by bits, if they use sufficiently emotional and controversial issues, that will pit what they call the “people” (the folk) against the “elite”, the “establishment” (whatever that could mean exactly, but basically, all those who don’t think the same way). Because this is also what this vote reveals: people plainly voted exactly the opposite of what the government, the parliament, the media and the experts were recommending. The reason why I worry is because the mechanism at work here really reminds me of what happened in Germany in the 1930’s. With all due respect to the differences in time, place and circumstances, the fact is that Swiss people have been progressively scuttling their democracy using perfectly democratic and legal tools for the last 10 years. This is not the first vote that is hacking at the principles of our constitutions. There were two others, that didn’t make as much noise internationally, but are as serious threat to a balanced democracy as this one. And I know that the SVP as well as other extreme-right wing parties have now decided to launch more initiative to vote on banning the burqa and any Muslim scarves in public space, banning islamic religious teaching, and others want to specifically root the Swiss constitution in the Christian tradition (forget the “Judeo-” part, here). The last one is actually an old refrain that pops up every 10 years, but this time, it might find more attention in the population. So, now, my only hope is that there will be enough jurists and courageous politicians to put a stop to this populist madness.

  • Timothy Abbott

    I have to say that my first thought on hearing this (depressing) news is that I always refer to Switzerland as ‘the most democratic country in the world’ and that is exactly what people said about the Weimar Republic – the framework which allowed the election of the Nazi party in Germany.

  • franz

    Switzerland did the right thing by banning these minarets. If Arab/Muslim countries do not allow Christian churches to be built, then why should Christian couintries allow Muslim mosques???? We are living in a world of pluralism, Arab nations shouyld recognized that Christians who are living in their countries are humans too, and not dogs. Shame on Europeans for cowering and catering to these Muslim bandits. Most Europeans are afraid that’s why. You get what you deserved if you do not protect Christian rights as well.

    • Franz, when you vote in your own country, you don’t vote in function of what is happening in other countries, but in function of what is happening in your country and the impact your choice might have for your country. I rejected this initiative and honestly, when I did, I didn’t give a f** about Saoudia Arabia, Turkey, Iran or whatever, because they aren’t Switzerland and Switzerland isn’t the same as they are! Moreover, 90% of Muslims in Switzerland come from the Balkans, especially Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were part of predominantly Christian regions and lived for decades under an anti-religious communist regime! They aren’t arabs and they don’t practice Islam in the same way as in the Middle-East, Africa or Asia! Moreover, this so-called “reciprocity” argument is just an excuse for an islamophobia which doesn’t dare to name itself properly. Because, in that case, I should maybe remind you that in the 15th century, when Southern Christian Europe was busy hunting down Muslims and Jews, to burn them as heretic or kick them out in the sea, the Jewish and Christian minorities in Muslim kingdoms were doing a lot better under the Dhimmi status!

  • I understand that Franz wants Western countries to act the same way as the Muslim countries? In that case Western democracies should become authoritarian one party states who serve and protect their Franzes?

    Bertus

  • European, American, Oceanic etc. everywhere people are allowed to build Mosques. There is neither a ban on practizing Islam nor a ban on building Mosques in all these so called ‘Christian’ countries, which they are…not.
    But if a minaret stands for ‘dominance’ is the Islam world, then I have a problem with it to build them in countries where people feel tat their culture, heritage, are trapped and experience the overwhelming influence from the Islam in their daily lives as a threat, intimidation etc.. I remember the years of fraude, corruption, threats to build in Amsterdam a Mosque which minaret must be higher then the surrounding buildings. The mosque, with money from Saudi A.and build by Erbakan National Review groups were so corrupt that 20.000 Turks lost their savings.
    A minaret is for the call for prayer. But they are not allowed to use it 5 times a day. So what’s the big deal? They restored an Armenian church in TR, but putting a cross on it was not allowed and prayers are not allowed as well. They turned it into a museum.
    And I don’t understand what this has to do with fascism, since fascism is a cult and rejects religion, all, but nazi germany had warm relations with the Arab world. Khomeiny, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Arab leaders such as Sayyid Qutb of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as well as the Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini. Sami al-Joundi, one of the founders of the ruling Syrian Ba’ath Party, recalls: “We were racists. We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books… We were the first who thought of a translation of Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was witness to the Arab Inclination toward Nazism, like the “Hisb-el-qaumi-el-suri” (PPS) or Social Nationalist Party in Syria, happened all over Arabia. The firtst Syrian Baath leader, Anton Sa’ada, styled himself the Führer of the Syrian nation, and Hitler became known as “Abu Ali” (In Egypt his name was “Muhammed Haidar”). The banner of the PPS displayed the swastika on a black-white background, until today, even in Lebanon. Until this very nice day in December, fascism flourish in the Arab world. Now you know why there are only one single parties in this part of the world. Nazism and fascism has nothing to do with religion but all with cults around one person and ideology.
    The ban gives a bad signal, so does the Arab world every day. There must be some way out of here!….

    • I don’t know about the Netherlands, but I can assure you that with a population of hardly 400’000 Muslims in Switzerland out of a total population of 7,5 millions, we certainly don’t experience “an overwhelming influence from the Islam in their daily lives as a threat, intimidation etc… As a matter of fact, since there are only 4 minarets in the country, the oldest one, in Zürich, dating back to 1963, most people never saw a minaret until the Swiss People’s Party decided to display all over Switzerland a flyer with a head-to-foot black-cladded woman, in front of a forest of minarets sprouting through a swiss flag. But the real issue at stake here isn’t the minaret. It’s the fact that this popular initiative, which has been accepted on Sunday, introduces a discrimination against a portion of the population, singling it out because of its religion. For me, this is an extremely dangerous breach of one of the pillars of our democratic system: the rejection of discrimination and the right to an equal treatment for all (art.8). And the fact that 57% of the voting citizen doesn’t realize it is the real concern. In their eyes, they simply expressed their rejection of Islam (eventhough they’ll be adamant that they are only rejecting radical Islam), and so they don’t think it is such a big deal to discriminate against Muslims, which they see mostly as foreigners. Well, that is exactly what the extreme-right parties are banking on. The next step is already in sight. Some of the evangelical parties, allied with the Swiss Democrats (even more extreme than the Swiss People’s Party), have already announced their plan to launch another initiative to ask the Swiss citizen to root the constitution in a purely Christian line (forget the “Judeo-” part here, they really mean Christian and only Christian). If such an initiative is submitted to vote and accepted, that means basically the end of a secular democracy and the start of the road down to dictatorship. And honestly, I don’t give a damn what the Arab world does or if they admire Hitler or not! What matters to me is what is happening right here, in Berne!

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