3QD reader Cyrus Hall writes:
My temporary home of the last five years, Switzerland, has just voted for one of the most bigoted and undemocratic constitutional reforms in recent memory: the banning of Islamic minarets on Mosques. The vote appears to be quite stunning, with 58% of voters backing the ban. This was after the most recent polls showed the measure being rejected by 53%, a story in itself.
This represents the most direct attack on the European Muslim minority yet. The French "headscarf ban" was at least religion neutral -- something I would still argue against (as an Atheist), but I appreciate the attempt at even-handedness. On the other hand, this constitutional amendment targets a small, largely immigrant population (many of whom have no vote), single-handedly banning them from behavior that would be perfectly acceptable were they of any other faith. Outrageous.
A Dish reader dissents:
Your “Good God” response makes you sound like a knee-jerk liberal, Andrew, as well as making your own toleration seem as shallow as your accusation of that of Europe. To this agnostic Buddhist-leaning Massachusetts Democrat, the response of the Swiss makes perfect sense.
The 2009 estimated population of Switzerland is 7.7 million. The article you link says there are 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland. That makes 5.19% of the population. Why should the other 94.81% of the population agree to the building of towers whose function is to broadcast foreign peoples’ foreign language calls-to-prayer five times a day? Can you think of a clumsier way for 5% of the population to piss off the other 95%? I have no problem with anyone wanting to practice their religion so long as it hurts no one else. And I also have no problem with the Swiss being unwilling to listen to “Allahu akbar, etc.” at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and nightfall. The Roman Catholic church down the street from me has a carillon that rings the hours. I like it; it’s pretty and it provides a useful function for the entire neighborhood. But, if it broadcast its priest intoning “Introibo ad altare Dei” every time Mass was said, I’d be on the phone to City Hall every time I heard it.
There are currently four minarets in all of Switzerland. None conduct the call to prayer. Moreover, there is no distinction between "foreign peoples" and Swiss-born Muslims. This is a fascistic act and a profound attack on religious freedom. We will see soon enough if the Christianists who regularly bloviate about religious liberty utter a single sound of protest.