In Switzerland’s Failures, a Vindication for Our First Amendment

Minarets. Not so scary.

Underscoring yesterday’s post about the dangers of religious conflict, per the BBC, we learn that Switzerland voted, by referendum, to ban the construction of minarets, an iconic feature of Islamic architecture used in daily calls to prayer. The notion that this will “solve” the “problem” of “Islamization” in Switzerland is ridiculous, in its whole, and at every subsidiary part. The majority shouldn’t delude itself into thinking this is anything but what it is: oppression of a resurgent minority, sure to inflame an avoidable conflict about the nature, and adaptability, of European democracy.

Say what you will about America’s many, frequently serious problems: this could not happen here, no matter how desperately some of our countrymen may wish for it. Immigration and an influx of different cultures rarely become the existential threats to society that they’re so often billed as. But, should it come to that, there’s a middle road between accommodation and all-out conflict, which this ban does seem to forbode. Our Constitution commands us to find that middle road; that Switzerland declined to rise to the same challenge is a stain on their history.



  1. I don’t really think this reflects particularly on European democracy as such. Switzerland has always been an arch-conservative wasteland – didn’t introduce women’s sufferage in federal elections until the early 1970s, for instance. If anything, it’s more a failing of their direct democracy, than of European democracy.

    However, even without considering all the human rights issues, it’s crazy that a country so dependent on its finance and banking sector would move in such a closed-minded direction. There are plenty of other countries that would love to hold some of the money from the growing markets in the Gulf states or Southeast Asia. But I guess the Swiss can always go back to making cuckoo clocks or hiring themselves out as mercenaries…

  2. Oh yes, glad you noticed that one. I am an atheist currently residing in Switzerland and I am flabbergasted by the ridiculousness of this discussion here. The point is not about how you want to live together in an enlightened society, it is about we as a Christian culture against them, the other, the alien. And then you have these right wing politicians saying things like “great that we could stop the minarets, that was really important, now maybe we can also address minor issues like forced marriages”. Hello? Does Swiss law have no hold against forced marriages as it is? That would be a poor situation indeed. And if it hasn’t, why waste your time with campaigning to introduce additional regulations into building codes?

    But well, this is not about reason or facts anyway, it is naked discrimination, nothing else. If it wasn’t, then it would have occurred to somebody that you would logically also have to outlaw church towers. I, at least, do not think that an Imam crying out for prayer could annoy me any more than the intrusive clanging and ringing I have to put up with as is.

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