Call to Prejudice: Swiss to Vote on Ban on Mosque Minarets

The Swiss are poised to vote on a disturbing attack on religion: a ban on minarets on mosques used for the adhan (call to prayer). If passed, the referendum this Sunday would be a clear denial of a basic human right for Muslims and an act of popular intolerance against a minority group.

The measure is the work of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party. The organizer is Ulrich Schlüer, who insists that “The minaret has got nothing to do with religion. It’s a symbol of political power, a prelude to the introduction of sharia law.”

While it is true that the first minarets appeared 80 years after Muhammad’s death, they do play a significant role in the calling of the faithful and providing the faithful with a visual vantage point — much like a church bell tower served to call to Christians. It is odd that the party is not seeking a ban on church towers.

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31 thoughts on “Call to Prejudice: Swiss to Vote on Ban on Mosque Minarets”

  1. just to add to my previous comment and respond to some of those left by others:

    lottakatz: “I’d go for a ban on all public ‘call to’ noise coming from churches- a in my neighborhood in the city would ring it’s bells on Sunday mornings and wake me up”

    Totally agree with this. Churches, and other organizations, should not be allowed to get away with noise pollution. In Japan political candidates and their teams drive around in vans with loudspeakers saying little more than thank you for voting for __insert name here__. Worse still if you live in a large apartment building as they will set up a loudspeaker by the side of the road pointed at your building and talk for hours. A few church bells is a minor annoyance compared to election season here. That said, I think all forms of such noise pollution should be banned as it most definitely constitutes a public nuisance.

    The law under discussion, as I understand it, is not specifically about the call to prayer, though, but rather the minarets themselves. Even if every minaret was eliminated, I’m pretty confident that the call to prayer would still be done at street level.

    Takoma: “in Belmont near Boston, the Mormons built this huge temple with a sky-scrapper steeple. People all around also resisted–though the Mormons ended up prevailing. A real shame to the cityscape…”

    I am not familiar with the details of the situation in Belmont but it’s not unusual for cities to have height limits on buildings, or even design approval to ensure it does not clash with the local area. (e.g. permission not given to build a giant skyscraper amongst old stone buildings, or in a resort area, etc.)

    The problem here, that I see, is that it is targeting a specific religion, and not based on practical requirements applied to all persons and organizations equally.

  2. Not to mention that the Swiss provide the armed guards for the Vatican. This was done during WWII when they claimed to be neutral.

    How about that….who guards the Vatican?

    The “Helvetians”:

    Not many of the visitors to Rome, who pose for a photograph in front of the Swiss soldiers on guard at the gates of Vatican City, are familiar with the history of these troops who take an oath of loyalty to the Pope.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/swiss_guard/swissguard/storia_en.htm

  3. Nal,

    What about the people who are inspired by minarets?

    In-SPIRED … minarets! I get it. 😆

  4. @ Frank:

    True… though the fact remains that Switzerland closed its borders to those feeing the Nazis and Swiss banks swindled billions of dollars of mostly German Jews.

    @ Mike Spindell:

    “the Minaret and the call to prayer is a feature of Islam and not only do I not find it offensive, but I would consider their ban to be religiously bigoted in any environment.”

    Are you kidding? Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where calls to prayer are broadcast from a minaret on powerful PA systems at 5 a.m.? I have… it ain’t pretty, brother, I tell you, especially for those – like me – who treasure their morning sleep!…

    On a related subject, in Belmont near Boston, the Mormons built this huge temple with a sky-scrapper steeple. People all around also resisted–though the Mormons ended up prevailing. A real shame to the cityscape…

  5. Switzerland has one of the most advanced Bill of Rights in the world. The U.S. should have those rights spelled out as clearly.
    http://www.ddleague-usa.net/sbor.htm

    The freedom ot practice religion is protected, but the freedom to announce a religion is not.

    Switzerland is a direct democracy.

  6. Takoma “Julia Onken, …last week called on women to vote for the ban. “Mosques are male houses, minarets are male power symbols,” she declared. “The building of minarets is also a visible signal of the state’s acceptance of the oppression of women.”
    ….
    Is this feminist fantasizing?

    ——
    More of a well deserved poke in the eye IMO.

    I’d go for a ban on all public ‘call to’ noise coming from churches- a in my neighborhood in the city would ring it’s bells on Sunday mornings and wake me up- srsly, the people that were going to church knew what time it was and were already up, the people that weren’t going didn’t want to be awakened. I always put those bell in the category of a alaegorical ruler slap on the hands to us sinners 🙂

  7. Thanks AY,
    The Swiss are a country with a hypocritical history and bigotry is high among their faults. I’m not a fan of Sharia Law or of fundamentalist Islam, but then I simply don’t care for any religious fundamentalists and consider them a threat to all of civilization. That being said the Minaret and the call to prayer is a feature of Islam and not only do I not find it offensive, but I would consider their ban to be religiously bigoted in any environment.

  8. Why is this a problem? It is not exactly a secret that Muslims wish to impose Sharia law on the countries in which they live. If you have a bully on your block do you let him take your house? Or do you and some neighbors get together and kick his a . . . so next time he will think twice?

    And as far as feminist fantasizing, from what I have read on this blog alone, it is a rational thought.

    Unfortunately Islam appears to be both a religion and a political ideology or at least that is the way it is used by the ruling class of Imam’s. Doesn’t Switzerland have a right to prevent their country from becoming like Iran?

    At what point do civil liberties cross the line into national suicide. Switzerland is, by all appearances, a relatively free country that recognizes individual rights. Does it have a duty to protect them to the point of it’s own demise? That seems to me to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

  9. And to think that they were neutral during WWII. Yeah right, they were the first country to close the borders to Jews.

    A new movie should come out called “Swindlers List.”

  10. Julia Onken, a prominent feminist and psychologist and bestselling author of self-help books, last week called on women to vote for the ban. “Mosques are male houses, minarets are male power symbols,” she declared. “The building of minarets is also a visible signal of the state’s acceptance of the oppression of women.”
    (From the article in The Guardian)
    ….
    Is this feminist fantasizing?

  11. The toxins of hatred can only be contained by the individual who is cultivating them.

    But a swift kick in the butt by the Swiss voters would send the bigot back to pout.

  12. “It is odd that the party is not seeking a ban on church towers.”

    Is it? Nearly every country has these sort of hypocrites in office in one form or another. Open prejudice, religious or racial intolerance are always supported by enough people to elect these sorts of people. I’m far more interested to see the result of this vote than whether or not some crackpot proposes it.

    America has no shortage of elected members of congress and senate with similarly intolerant views. It all just depends on whether there’s enough to make it into law.

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