26
Nov
09

Are the Swiss being paranoid over minarets?

The Islamic call for prayers – the Azanis one of Islam’s most iconic rituals.
Years ago members of the clergy would climb the minarets and spread the word by shouting, this was of course before they were replaced by tape recorders and loudspeakers. The minarets thus still perform their function, and has become a subject of debate in societies where Muslims are a minority.

On Sunday, the Swiss will vote on a proposal to ban the construction of minarets across the country. The idea is backed by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the largest in parliament, and by conservative Christian groups, who claim that minarets would be the first sign of the Islamisation of Switzerland. The country’s four hundred thousand Muslims say that permitting more minarets would be a welcome sign that their faith is accepted.

Do mosques really need minarets in modern western societies with other more efficient means of communication? Do you think the construction of minarets on mosques has ‘islamised’ your country?


72 Responses to “Are the Swiss being paranoid over minarets?”


  1. 1 jens
    November 26, 2009 at 16:47

    well being swiss i am actually split on this. i personally do not like the idea of minarets in swizterland, simply because they do not fit into “the swiss” lanscape. plus i had some muslims living next to me who had their tape recorder at full blast playing their prayers in the middle of the night. after having called the police multiple times they were finally evicted. this is what i do not want. on the otherhand we have freedom of religion.

  2. 2 Guido
    November 26, 2009 at 16:49

    Do churches really need bells in modern western societies with other more efficient means of communication?

    @ steve: I don’t like to live in Saudi Arabia or its Christian counterpart.

  3. 3 Ibrahim in UK
    November 26, 2009 at 16:50

    I don’t think the issue is minarets or their function. The issue that most extreme right wingers have, including those in Switzerland, is to do with anything visibly foreign. They seem to share the same paranoid fears of an Islamic take-over of Europe, where Sharia is symbolised by the minarets, along with the usual comments “If you don’t like our laws, then go back”… ironic from someone who doesn’t like current laws and wants to change them to ban minarets. (where the Swiss muslims are meant to “go back” to is another question).

    PS: I did find it interesting that Swiss citizens get to excercise direct democracy.

  4. 4 vijay pillai
    November 26, 2009 at 16:52

    i think i a modern world with nuisance of noice pollution and other forms of health
    hazards ,religious practices specially in western world or where there are sizeable population of other religious or racial grouping, each and every religion have to find acompromising path to coexistence. If there are objections of noice pollution or distrbing the sleep of others , it must be respcted.
    I think hindus have adopted a more tolerant and understanding attitude wherever they live specially in the western world.For instance burning polluting incents are not used.I would like to see in hindu temples, Wasting gallons of milk down the drain is minimised while bathing the god or goddess.Or breaking coconuts as well.

  5. 5 Bard - Europe Today
    November 26, 2009 at 17:03

    Well I’m not sure we’re at a point yet where everyone has Blackberries, but it’s definitely an interesting thought.
    As to the construction of churches in Saudi Arabia, and particularly in Mecca, I think it would be appropriate to compare with Rome or the Vatican.
    I know Rome has a mosque, but whether one will ever be built inside the Vatican walls I’m very doubtful.

    But what about the principles that Europeans like to beat their chests with regarding freedom of speech and religion?
    Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to restrict or prohibit the Muslim call for prayer at the same time as the traditional bells are chiming from the church towers?

  6. 7 steve
    November 26, 2009 at 17:06

    @ Bard

    While you’re right I doubt you could build a mosque or a synogogue or a protestant church in the vatican, non catholics are at least allowed to enter. I’ve been to the Vatican before, I’m Jewish. I know for a fact I am not allowed to set foot into Mecca because I am not a muslim.

    Yes, I think it is h ypocritical to ban muslim calls for prayer and allow churchbells, but how many christians in europe actually follow the bells to the church? Very few people in western europe are religious.

  7. 8 Gudmundur (Iceland)
    November 26, 2009 at 17:20

    What’s the difference between this and the church bells that wake me up every weekend😦

  8. 9 Livia Varju
    November 26, 2009 at 17:22

    Church bells don’t ring at the break of dawn, whereas the loudspeakers from minarets blast prayers (in Arabic) at dawn which is sometimes at 5am)plus 4 more times during the day. Muslims have come to a Christian country in a Christian continent, and should not impose on us such noise pollution. Besides the Koran doesn’t prescribe minarets and they are already free to build mosques. The thought of the skyline of Swiss towns and cities being dominated by minarets brings shivers to the backs of those who know that during the brutal Turkish occupation for hundreds years of several Central and Eastern European countries, the first thing they did was to build minarets that were always taller than church towers, thus symbolising their occupation. Besides, everyone has watches and clocks now and the call the prayer is outdated. Everywhere in the West, Muslims first demand minarets, then hijabs and burqas for their women, and then Sharia laws. They should be more grateful for being able to live in civilised countries. Moderate Muslims I know agree with me. Livia

    • 10 John Doe (A dear)
      November 30, 2009 at 07:59

      @ Livia Varju: they are not “demanding” minarets, they are simply asking for the right to do so if desired. “Their” women are allowed to wear hijabs and burqas, because people can wear whatever they want. Your accusations of Sharia laws are completely unfounded. And saying that the skyline will be “dominated by minarets” is a prime example of ignorance breeding fear. Your comment about them being ungrateful is typical of the “if you don’t like it then leave” attitude. And of course you justify your actions by saying that moderate Muslims agree with you. I should bring your comment in to my socio-political history class on Tuesday when we talk about Hitler and the power of fear.

      And by the way (not directed at you), minarets are not responsible for the noise; they should be able to put limits on the noise generated by the prayer calls (under a generalized law, of course), but banning minarets is just uncalled for.

      And what’s the legal definition of a minaret, anyways?

  9. 11 Guido
    November 26, 2009 at 17:45

    @ Livia Varju: The Turkish occupation is a bad example, in fact there was greater religious freedom than in rest of Europe, many Protestant Christians were not very pleased as Austria conquered Eastern Europe from the Turkish Empire.

  10. 12 Yasha Sturgill
    November 26, 2009 at 18:28

    What is the difference between a minaret and a steeple in the skyline? Each is a symbol of a group of people who have caused tremendous suffering as they each attempt to force their views on the rest of the population of the world. Each is also a symbol of prayer. Why does it make such a difference to you all how anyone else approaches their god? What kind of insecurity/idiocy is rampant in the world now?Pathetic and terribly uncivilized.

  11. 13 JanB
    November 26, 2009 at 18:31

    I can imagine those minarets can be very annoying, so yeah, they should abide by the same noise regulations as any other institution like churches (who are forbidden from ringing their bells at night.)

    Banning seems to go a bit far, but a Mosque should be fined if they start waking people up at 5 AM.

  12. November 26, 2009 at 18:44

    If the referendum is a democratic process,then the result should be honoured,regardless of what the subject.And all people should accept that result.Minorities should of course be looked after in regard to the tenets of democracy,but if the democratic vote should say no minarets,then there should be no minarets.It would not stop Muslims from the right of religeon,or from still persuing their quest,now or in the future.

  13. 15 steve
    November 26, 2009 at 18:46

    If this law fails, which I hope it does, I would like to see a law requiring that the prayers be called out in all the official languages of Switzerland and have a sign language interpreter as well.

  14. 16 viola
    November 26, 2009 at 18:49

    Are church bells that prevalent anymore? I only lived in one town in my whole life where church bells were rung by one church only and then only on Sunday. Not only that, but church bells were the original way of people keeping track of the time of day before clocks and watches were available to everyone.

    Those obnoxious, intrusive loudspeakers should definitely be banned. It’s like forcing everyone to listen to some obnoxious preacher’s rantings even if you don’t belong to his church.

    Nothing wrong with minarets, though.

  15. 17 Ronald Almeida
    November 26, 2009 at 19:55

    The Swiss don’t care for any religion, most of the churches are locked. So I think they are right not to encourage any other.
    The more religion is got rid of the better this world will be.

  16. 18 Ibrahim in UK
    November 26, 2009 at 20:23

    Minarets without loudspeakers are not accepted.
    Mosques with alternatives to minarets are not accepted either.
    Its the visible symbols of Islam that are being objected to, not the inconvenience of noise.

    lol@Steve
    I wonder if there would be an objection to broadcasting the call to prayer in sign-language via a batman-signal device! (oh never mind that, if they can’t tolerate minarets, I can’t imagine what people would feel looking up at the sky and seeing Arabic writing)

  17. 19 Joseph
    November 26, 2009 at 20:57

    I think they know what they are saying and I personally fully agree. I dont think british would agree 50 years ago if government would ask them if they want britain look the way it is looking now. Their country is working without huge amount of immigrants from abroad, their dont have to worry that always growing muslim population is going to bomb them like happened in UK, they dont want to have problems they dont need to have, they dont want let them come in that they in return will be telling them how to live.

  18. 20 Josiah Soap
    November 26, 2009 at 21:06

    I think the Swiss should let muslims construct minarets in Switzerland when muslim countries allow Europeans to construct pubs and strip bars in their countries. The Azans can wake people up first thing in the morning, while bunches of rowdy drunks can keep people awake in the evenings. Of course in the modern world these things usually only swing one way. Muslims move to another country and that host country must accept and embrace their culture. In reverse you must lose you culture and only accept muslim traditions in their country. Sounds like a nice equal deal to me.

  19. November 26, 2009 at 23:02

    I cant believe this!! How insecure are Europeans and Europe as a whole? They are so scared of muslims that they have to marginalize them and persecute them. Such open acts of aggression from lovers and protectors of liberty will only unite muslims as one to fight back. I cant wait for the backlash from the so called ‘moderate muslims’.

    • 22 Josiah Soap
      November 27, 2009 at 13:40

      Abiy
      I can’t believe how insecure muslims are! You show a cartoon in a paper and people riot and threaten death. A British teacher names a teddy Mohammed and gets thrown in jail. I am very firghtened that you “can’t wait for a backlash.”
      Its exactly these sort of views that you express that have lead European people to shun Islam. Just as per my earlier post SOME Muslims feel that their faith and views need to be accepted whereever they wander, but are not willing to reciprocate in any form.

      I would like to see a posting from a “moderate muslim” to show they do not agree with Abiy.

    • 23 Mustafa
      November 30, 2009 at 04:26

      I fully endorse Abiy Kenya’s views.
      How many mosques (masjids) are there in Europe, anyway? I am sure much more lesser than churches, which are at every nook and corner.
      Minarets are an addition to the scenic beauty of a city and quite harmless to environment and humans;WHY object to them?
      This objection apparently has interior motive of politics and antagonism to Islam and Muslims..The masjids are open to inspection at any time.If they have any inhibitions about the minarets, they should consult the builders.They should come clean and speak out about the reasons behind their fears.That is the only way to live in peace in this world and not create enmity between humans.Come on!!We are NOT living in the cave age.!!

  20. 24 Jayson Rex
    November 27, 2009 at 00:04

    Minarets mean mosques and this is precisely what Switzerland or any other European country, without a single exception, wants to avoid.

    “The country’s four hundred thousand Muslims say that permitting more minarets would be a welcome sign that their faith is accepted.” They are absolutely right. As it happens, their faith is NOT accepted. In fact, it is totally rejected by Christian Europe.

    Since it was not formally stated before they were allowed entry into a European country, it must be clarified now and subsequently enforced without delay: Muslims should live among their brethren and not among Christian Europeans. Mistakes were made, no doubt, and should be corrected ASAP rather than left festering. End of argument.

    [By the way, everything in life depends on a quid-pro-quo arrangement. Everything! This topic can be discussed again, the day Muslim countries will permit Christians to build Churches in their lands, proselytize without restrictions and honestly accept other people’s faith just as they would like others to respect theirs.]

    • 25 Roger
      November 29, 2009 at 22:34

      I heartily endorse this view.

      The march of Islam into Europe and elsewhere has to halted.

      Islam is an intolerant religion with views diametrically opposed to Christian values. Whilst it may be true that many so called Christians do not actively worship they do live by and accept a code broadly based on Christian values.

      In the U.K. we live with the constant threat of Islamic terrorism. The mosque and its minaret serves as a Trojan horse for extremists. I remain convinced there is not the will within the Muslim community to either admit to or to tackle extremism.

      The more deeply entrenched Islam becomes in the UK and Europe the more it will seek to undermine our civilisation. Calls for Sharia law are the next step. Will E.U. ‘Human Rights’ laws be invoked to permit Sharia Law? At what point will our legislators wake up and react to the deeply held concern of the indiginous non-Muslim majority in the U.K. and Europe?

      I applaud the Swiss.

      Now is the time for people with a real concern for our history, civilisation and democratic sytems, indeed our whole way of life in the West to stand up and be counted. Even Tolerance must have it’s limits.

  21. November 27, 2009 at 00:44

    Imogen Foulkes report was crassly misleading. It portrayed the situation as between Swiss and resident Muslims. The reality is that the Swiss position she portrayed, that of the SVP and the “minaret posters” is as much a minority representation as is her sensation seeking journalism which seeks only an easy controversy

  22. 27 claudine
    November 27, 2009 at 02:01

    since minarets are not mentioned in the Koran they are not a “must have”.
    Minarets are a sign of victory and Islamic law.

    So, since there is no need of having a Minaret according to the Koran the banning of Minarets would be in order if the Swiss want it that way.

  23. 28 James Ian
    November 27, 2009 at 13:13

    I don’t care what religion you are, everyone needs to read and live by Matthew chapter 6.

  24. 29 steve
    November 27, 2009 at 14:12

    “Such open acts of aggression from lovers and protectors of liberty will only unite muslims as one to fight back. I cant wait for the backlash from the so called ‘moderate muslims”

    Churches and synogogues are banned in Saudi Arabia. You are not allowed to conduct any other religious ceremony in that nation other than Islam. Why are not christians or “moderate christians” fighting back there? Why is it only Muslims who will get angered if they are percieved to be discriminated against? This is jsut for the minerets, not the actual mosques.

  25. November 27, 2009 at 15:23

    Salaam guys,
    I live in Al Karradah neighbourhood in Baghdad, and there’re six churches in our neighbourhood, all of which are religiously and socially active, and they do all ring the bells on Sundays… Wow, I thought that we ordinary Iraqis could learn something from the Swiss, but it looks like it’s the Swiss who should be learning from us… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    • 31 Roosan
      November 30, 2009 at 11:09

      @Lubna
      U have mentioned about chrstians living in baghdad.first you are unaware of the fact what happened with christians in iraq in the recent war.they have been tortured and massacared.the second thing is that christians in iraq are native, they are not immigrated people.worshiping is their fundamental right. Muslims have migrated (mostly illegal) to europe and switzerland. The liberty and freedom in switzerland has allready been missused. Now more radical approach is needed to stop islamization of europe.
      Christians are facing atrocities and discrimination in muslim countries.They are treated as second grade citizens and with no human rights.Why muslims always get angry and feel to be discrinated against…
      Switzerland is a christian country and have every right to protect and save its christian image.No one should need to get offended by that, and if they do then they are allowed to go to other places where they live like.

  26. November 27, 2009 at 17:50

    I’d like to make three points:
    The first is to wonder why interviewers on topics such as these never ask about Muslim intolerance of Christians. Christians are banned in Saudi Arabia and suffer discrimination and, indeed, persecution, from Indonesia to Algeria. Why should we grant Muslims rights which they deny to Christians in Muslim lands?

    Secondly, specifically on the point of minarets, wherever Muslims have come to power, they have banned the ringing of church bells. Historically this was one of the first acts of a Muslim conqueror and even today, although Christians are tolerated in most Muslim countries, they are not allowed to ring church bells. Muslims have a cheek to even ask to be allowed to have minarets and give the call to prayer when they deny the equivalent right to Christians.

    Finally, Muslims do not allow anyone to convert away from Islam. How would they like it if Christians were out hunting for converts such as Cat Stevens to kill them? They should grant to Christians the same rights as they demand for themselves.

  27. November 27, 2009 at 18:25

    @ steve most people cant justify such an act of agression therefore they resort to childlish like arguments and point fingers. So let me TRY and address these arguments. One of the most repeated claim is ‘why arent christians or people of other faiths allowed to build their worship places in muslim majority places especialy in mecca? First of all christians ARE allowed to build churches in muslim majority places. There are churches from Senegal to Indonesia to pakistan to Iraq and even parts of saudi Arabia. But why do christians insist on Mecca? Why the holliest place of Islam? Are there even Christians or jews in Mecca? In answering that argument,let me pose this question,’why do you think the Vatican will never allow a mosque to be built there? Why are the Jews held bent on destroying the Al-Aqsa mosque to extend their wailing wall? Secondly the minaretes here are not the issue, islam and the fear of islam is. The minaretes are part of the architecture of the mosques and a long tradition of muslims. Some idiot here even claimed that since its not in the Quran minaretes are not part of islam. I would advice that guy to leave islam to muslims….

  28. November 27, 2009 at 19:01

    Continuation … And this idea that Christians are actualy banned in saudi arabia is a load of rubbish. There places in saudi kingdom(american bases to be precise ) where christians have excersized their freedom of worship and are even allowed to consume alcohol and pork. A mosque cannot be a mosque without minarete its like a church with no pews instead all the congregation sit down to prevent more trees from being cut for wood hence preserving the enviroment, instead the logical thing would be to actualy use a more enviromental friendly material for such pews not ban them intirely and give a flimpsy excuse. Also from such posts there is a mention of “Christian Europe”. The is no such thing as christian europe. Europe is secular and has no official religion though the majority are christians. So in answering the question at hand, Yes the swiss are getting paranoid and in fear they are limiting their own freedoms which may prove detremental to them in the long run

  29. 35 Elias
    November 27, 2009 at 19:01

    When will Muslims realise by living in non Muslim countries that there is a limit as to what a country can accept. There best course is to keep a low and reasonable profile, go about their business in a way acceptable to their host country. To glorify their religion it must come from within themselves in prayer and so forth, but to build huge minarets within a country changing the land scape cannot be acceptable to the vast majority of non Muslims.

    • 36 John Doe (A dear)
      November 30, 2009 at 08:25

      I recommend you read “The Pressure to Cover” by Kenji Yoshino. It is this “keeping a low profile” type of attitude that disgusts me. Why should they have to act like white Christian Swiss when that’s not a part of their culture? Why should minarets not be acceptable to the vast majority of non-Muslims? Why should people like you dictate what’s best for them? I really suggest reading that Yoshino article; it can really open your eyes.

  30. 37 claudine
    November 28, 2009 at 01:47

    @ Lubna,

    if I were you I would consider moving to somewhere else.
    In Iraq it is not safe living near religious institutions. You must expect a church to be bombed at any time, in a country where Sunnis and Shiites even bomb each other’s mosques.
    I doubt your claim of “religious tolerance in Iraq”

  31. 38 Ronald Almeida
    November 28, 2009 at 09:49

    It is the hypocricy of Democracy. It’s a system that only pays lip service to individual freedom, but power always rules. Whether it’s in the hands of a dictator or the masses.

  32. 39 steve
    November 28, 2009 at 10:12

    Abiy

    I never said Christians can’t go to Saudi Arabia. I said that there are no churches there, and non muslims are not allowed to enter Mecca. I seem to recall that during the first Gulf War, President George H W Bush had to have christmas services on an aircraft carrier because he couldn’t do it in Saudi Arabia. And you’re completely wrong about alcohol being permissible for non Muslims openly. It’s done at embassies, and is called “tea”. THere is a black market where you can get alcohol, but it’s illegal. I know this from having a father who has been there, and having spoken to Saudis that come to the US. I think they might know better than you do about the situation there.

    • 40 Roosan
      November 30, 2009 at 11:26

      steve, u are very true..christians arent have any freedom in all muslim countries including saudi..
      in saudi arabia and iran and many muslim countries christain accept the governing laws and follows them even if they are against their religious freedom.
      Why do muslims get agitated and feel supressed when some law is being imposed which is not suiting them.In muslim countries there is no such thing as human rights or religious rights, why do the muslims want the rights in non muslim countries??

  33. 41 David Morris
    November 28, 2009 at 11:22

    Not being Swiss, and not closely involved, I would like to ask a few questions. The call to respect religous freedom is being raised.
    Are christians enjoying human rights in Somalia,Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia. I dont think so, Over twenty million Christians have been murdered in Muslim dominated countries since 2000. Even in Australia, a fairly tolerant society, there is friction between religous groups. A large riot between muslims and the christian populace happened a number of years ago. I urge you to Google the muslim website. “The Muslim Messiah” This website is muslim, not some right wing organisation. Hopefully you will, and it will open your eyes. Finaly check Google Earth. On the southern tip of Gibralta, there is now a huge white mosque, put your own slant on that symbol.

  34. November 28, 2009 at 12:40

    Switzerland has the highest per capita ownership of guns in Europe so yes it is exceptionally paranoid. From an architectural standpoint, minarets are aesthetically pleasing to the eye. In today’s world, a cosmopolitan outlook is the best antidote to paranoia.

  35. 43 Alec Paterson
    November 28, 2009 at 20:20

    Minarets are not necessary. Wahhabi mosques don’t have minarets at all, and disapprove of them. It cannot be argued that Muslims need to have minarets from which a non-existent muezzin will utter the Call To Prayer (which is not permitted because of sound zoning laws), or that they need them even where a Call To Prayer is allowed, since if it is played and then amplified electronically, there is no conceivable need for height.
    The minaret is merely a sign of power. It is a sign of dominion over the nearby churches and synagogues. Why do you think that, according to the Shari’a, no church or synagogue can be built higher than a nearby mosque? Why do you think that mosques were always built on the highest ground? For a nice example, see the mosque in Grenada that was opened a few years ago. The Spanish government thought it would be a great idea. They thought it would be a demonstration of real “tolerance” for Muslims that would somehow be reciprocated. Of course it wasn’t. That mosque looms over a convent and a church, and with its Call to Prayer has disrupted the quiet lives of the nuns, who actually dared to protest. To no avail. Of course. Minarets are claims of power. They are claims to dominance. That is what they are.

  36. 44 Duffster
    November 29, 2009 at 03:31

    Are minarets really what this is all about?

    “For the record, Switzerland has between 300,000 and 400,000 Muslims but only about 13% actively practice their faith. There are approximately 150 Islamic cultural centres but only four of these have minarets. None of these minarets are used to call the faithful to prayer as they are are in Islamic countries.”

    http://notesfromthebartender.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/scared-of-an-islamic-europe-lets-vote-on-it/

  37. 45 Jimmy
    November 29, 2009 at 10:22

    Hello

    In my view problem is not with minarets, as they want to declare there afghan and Iraq war on religious basis as they lost support on humanitarian grounds, so they want European support from this angle as far as noise pollution concerns , loud speakers can be banned but for both churches and mosques. ( Islam does not support any terrorist activity at all, Hilary Clinton admits in her speech that these terrorists (Monsters) are created by USA for USSR)
    @Elias you mean that 7.5 million people doesn’t have right to worship on the religion. Are they slaves?

  38. 46 Michel Norman
    November 29, 2009 at 11:33

    The real issue, which nobody wants to address because it is not politically correct is that Moslem families in Europe have much larger families than non-moslem ones and people look at the demographics and realize that they will become the minority in their own countries in twenty, fifty or a hundred years. The Burka and the muezin are very in your face reminders of this and that is why the opposition occurs – to the thin end of the wedge of something that people percieve as threatening to their very way of life.

  39. 47 Gill
    November 29, 2009 at 16:13

    How about we dont have any religious buildings? Jesus taught in the open (if you believe he was God’s son), so did Mohammed, Buddha etc etc.
    People have lost sight of the origins of religion and now, its out of all proportion.

    Its so much easier to be atheist…that way I dont impose my views on others and I dont expect them to do so to me.

    • 48 David Morris
      December 7, 2009 at 07:18

      Yes Jesus taught in the open, but he also recognised the Temple and pracctised the rites performed in there. He on one occaison violently cleansed it of the usary and commerce that was going on there, so its sanctity was important to him. Christianity commenced AD 30 to 35, converting by the word. Mohammed began his preaching AD 630 and converted by the sword.

  40. 49 Phil K
    November 29, 2009 at 16:17

    Simple fact – do muslim countries encourage their christian communiites to build churches ?
    NO THEY DO NOT
    And these people are there in Switzerland (and throughout the west) for their own benefits.
    The swiss people allowed them in to help them.
    And like muslims in other western countries, they try to impose their intolerant religion more and more while expecting (and getting) the assistance of mouthy middle-classes who believe the views of the MAJORITY should not be considered on these subjects

  41. 50 David
    November 29, 2009 at 17:36

    As exit polls have shown, it seems the Ban will be implemented after all, unfortunately. It will be interesting how the Muslim partners of Switzerland react to this, I expect a backlash against Swiss goods, that for sure will happen. Another point, this referendum has not a whiff of relevance to what Saudi Arabia allows Christians to build or not to build, this issue is related to the growing Anti-Muslim hysteria in Switzerland.
    Reports suggest the Muslim population in Switzerland is non-practicing and they come from liberal Muslim majority countries. Don’t be surprised if they now feel persecuted by this ban and mosque attendance grows and more they dish more demands.

    Lastly, ban advocates have the most honestly stupid argument I’ve ever crossed. Minarets symbolize forced marriage, stoning, and the burka? Are you FREAKING kidding me?

  42. 51 NSC London
    November 29, 2009 at 22:04

    “The issue that most extreme right wingers have, including those in Switzerland, is to do with anything visibly foreign.”

    Wrong. The Swiss have embraced many other cultures, the problem in Europe is pretty much exclusively with Islam, because many Europeans realise that Islam is not a religion as much as it is a political system that is intent on being the law of the land.

    “They seem to share the same paranoid fears of an Islamic take-over of Europe, where Sharia is symbolised by the minarets,”

    Who needs to “symbolise” Sharia with minarets when there are already hundreds of Sharia courts operating across Europe?

    The calls of “racism” and “Islamophobia” are finally starting to wear thin on the continent. It is plainly obvious that Islam is simply a political system that is incompatible with democracy. I applaud the Swiss for taking this sensible action to declare to the world that they are intent on preserving their culture.

  43. 52 Cuthbert09
    November 29, 2009 at 23:25

    The Swiss are absolutely right., and I hope their bold stand is just the beginning of a world-wide stomping out of religion.

    To hell with religion and all its tax-exempt preachers, imams, sheiks, shamans, priests and poo-bahs.

    Mankind has better ways to spend its money and time than on big fat invisible so-called gods.

  44. 53 Cornell
    November 30, 2009 at 00:03

    MUSLIM< MUSLIM<MUSLIM, ISLAM ISLAM ISLAM, this is all we hear nowadays, we have enough problems in the UK without all the preposterous demands, and appeasement to this relgion which is totally alien to us, and apparently the Swiss.
    WE have no need for another religion, which is more demanding than any other in this country, or Europe, we have no need for another independant law (sharia) our law system may be up the creek, and need a lot of attention, BUT sharia is for the muslims, in their lands, NOT OURS, we have to allow the muslims to have special banking arrangements too, WHY, who are they? we have to let them roam about completely covered head to foot, no one can see who they are, even whether they are female , or not, WHY, We don't, if we did we'd be arrested.
    Religion is a personal choice, and should be practiced in your own home, that's ALL religions, once you start having churches, or mosques,or any other form of assembly, then you turn it into masses, masses can be swayed by any orator who has the power to do so.
    It's proven over the centuries that religion has been the most prominent cause of conflict throughout the world, and it has to stop. My personal view is that if you have any personal strength, then you don't need religion, if you haven't then, we'll continue with this pathetic Global clap trap.

  45. 54 Bert
    November 30, 2009 at 01:09

    Well, you know, chalets in Switzerland, minarets in the ME.

    The elephant in the room that no one wants to mention is that symbols of Islam today, and not just in the West by the way, are not symbols of peaceful coexistence. So why should anyone be surprised that there’s reluctance to accept more of them where they didn’t used to exist? Ask yourselves, in a moment of (at least) internal honesty.

    I can think of a host of other symbols that most people in the West wouldn’t want in their neighborhoods, that have nothing to do with religions. They do have to do with intolerance and horrific acts, though. Things should always be placed in context.

  46. 55 Manny
    November 30, 2009 at 02:09

    The issue that is not getting much publicity is that in Muslim countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, non-Muslims including Christians are not allowed to build their places of worship! Unless all Muslim countries remove that ban, this is the right vote in my view! Muslims come to western countries and demand equality when they don’t treat non-Muslims equally in their own countries. Actually there are laws in practically every Muslim country that discriminate against non-muslim. Centuries of turning the other cheek has not resulted in fair practices, and contrary has resulted in Islamic terrorism. Fear of expansion of Islam and increase in Islamic fundamentalism is a valid concern! Swiss people have made the right decision to protect their culture and religion.

  47. 56 Paul Yak
    November 30, 2009 at 03:27

    I think this is the right thing for European/Western countries. We are NOT a muslim society.

    I truly believe the Muslims are rtying to turn Europe into a Muslim state. They want their own Sharia laws, when OUR countries laws are supposed to apply to EVERY citizen. They say it is just to do honour killings in circumstances of adultery etc. (It is NOT OK).

    I watched the Channel 4 documentary “undercover Mosques” and in it, supposedly liberal/peaceful Mosques were teaching that non-Muslims were Kaafirs and when they had enough Muslims in Parliament they could bring in Sharia laws, Muslim schools etc. Is this what the people of the UK and Europe want, from asking ALL my friends and family, none of us want Islam to be the dominant force.

  48. 57 Dave (Phoenix, USA)
    November 30, 2009 at 08:04

    This is a shocking and appalling vote. I thought the Swiss were supposed to be neutral. This calls into question their standing as arbiters in the international community. It also rears again the ugly head of European racism, which has always been rampant, whether or not you will admit it. I am an American, and Europeans love to bash our perceived views of the world, but the USA would never insult its own millions of productive Muslim citizens as the Swiss have done. Even in the darkest times after 9-11-01, under Bush, nothing so racist could have been given serious debate in the USA. There were military measures against perpetrators in Asia, but not significant political action against ordinary Muslim US citizens. Religious expression is one of the most fiercely protected aspects of our society, and of any free society. The Swiss xenophobic way will not help win the hearts and minds, but will make things worse and take society backwards.

  49. November 30, 2009 at 09:42

    It’s interesting that one poster claimed that church bells ring in Baghdad. I certainly don’t want to call him a liar, but I know that back in the 1970s when I visited Iraq and attended a particular church, they did not dare ring their bells (which had been installed under the British) for fear of Muslim reaction.

    On my website you can find a film I made of Muslims celebrating public prayers in Rome. One part of me is glad to see religious tolerance in Rome, another part is furious that tolerance, where Muslims are concerned, is one-way. Why are Chrsitians forbidden to worship in Saudi Arabia?

    Another poster has commented that there was great tolerance under the Turks. To a certain extent that is true – and, indeed, true of all Muslim lands. Nonetheless Christians (and other religions) are always seen as second class citizens, subject to discrimination, punitive taxation, extortion (look at the Janissaries, for example), so the matter is not as simple as the poster would have us believe.

    Finally, as for the value of the two religions, “Christian” Germany has confessed and repented for the Holocaust against the Jews; Muslim Turkey still denies its genocide against the Armenians and imprisons anyone who raises the subject.

  50. 59 patti in cape coral
    November 30, 2009 at 14:11

    I don’t know about the call to prayer, have never heard one, but from what I looked up the minarets are the buildings with the onion-shaped tops. I’m not quite sure what side I fall on in the debate, but I do think the minarets are architecturally beautiful.

  51. 60 Deedee
    November 30, 2009 at 17:46

    First and foremost, I’m a Muslim and proud to be one. Although, I must admit that not every practice by my fellow Muslims is convenient to me. I strongly support the unity in diversity as where I come from, there are 5 legitimate religions, with 90% of the population are Muslims.

    I understand completely the complaints from non-Muslims who’ve been forced to listen to Adzan five times a day. Can’t imagine if their houses are next to a mosque. I live in an apartment where I can hear every single word by the preacher through a loudspeaker from a mosque nearby. Funny if I have to feel so ashamed as sometimes they don’t preach so well and to make matters worse, let everyone hear it all. I personally disagree to these kinds of practices and see that they’re not effective ways of communicating the messages.

    As for the maniretts in Switzerland, I’ve nothing against the building of any Islamic or other religion symbols of existence -I adore all kinds of such buildings and monuments-. Think about the legacy we can share to our next generation. I don’t see them as means or tools to dominate any existing and majority religion in Europe. I hate to see people who relate Islam to troubles. Trust me, all we want is to live in peace and harmony. And if some Muslims do the contrary, you shouldn’t see them as Muslims, instead, people who just don’t interpret the Holy Koran correctly. Their disgrace shouldn’t be done under the name of Allah.

    Perhaps I should mention that my apartment is also next to a Vihara as well, where the noisy drums and music fill the silence of midnight for whatever rituals they’re having. Sometimes they take turn after Adzan’s calling at dawn. I still haven’t figured if they have certain schedule for the drums and music to play, will keep you posted! The way I see it, it’s a good thing people still do believe in God in this day and age when the world’s gone crazier.

  52. November 30, 2009 at 17:57

    Abiy kenya claimed that Western troops in Saudi Arabia are allowed the free exercise of their religion. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I don’t know about pork and alcohol, but American and UK troops were specifically forbidden to take Bibles into Saudi Arabia. (I don’t know whether that ruling was subsequently changed.) Further, my understanding is that chaplains and padres have to remove religious insignia before entering the holy land of Saudi Arabia. Perhaps someone with knowledge of the present situation can comment.

    However, whatever may happen on army bases is really not the point. Those bases are, as it were, extra-territorial. Saudi Arabia has thousands of immigrant workers, many of whom are Christians (from India and the Philipines as well as the West). These people are definitely not allowed to worship openly and are actively persecuted if they manifest their religion in any way. Does no one remember the case a couple of years back when a Christian immigrant worker was sentenced to death for his faith? As a deliberate demonstration of contempt, the sentence was due to be executed on Christmas Day.

  53. 62 Paul Yak
    November 30, 2009 at 21:18

    People keep on talking about the tolerance of Muslims, this in an absolute joke.

    What about the massacres between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, the unity they talk about is ONLY when they want to stand up against Jews, Hindu’ or Christians. I have been to Pakistan, Dubai, Afghanistan and there is no single rule about the Muslim faith, the same way that every other religion divides into different factions depending upon their level of extremism.

    As the supposedly moderate muslims said on the Channel 4 documentary “Undercover Mosque”, “when we gain power over the Kaafirs then we shall teach them that Islam is all ruling and all powerful. Their choice will be to embrace Islam or be punished for remaining a Kaafir.

  54. 63 Mustafa
    December 1, 2009 at 05:32

    I fully support and endorse the thoughts on minarets and mosques by Ibrahin in UK,bard and jullumunder.If switzerland claims to be a democratic state,they should be ashamed of their ban on minarets.

  55. 64 Mustafa
    December 1, 2009 at 05:40

    Kendall Kay is presenting false images abour Saudi.Whether or not they wear insignias,chaplains and padres ,if they are not MUSLIMS, they would not be allowed to enter Makkah,PERIOD.But, they can roam around anywhere else in the Kingdom.
    I have never heard of a Christian immigrant hanged for his faith; and, immigrant workers are allowed to practice their faith there.

  56. 65 Mustafa
    December 1, 2009 at 05:43

    I fully agree with Deedee’ws comments which are facts.

  57. 66 Mustafa
    December 1, 2009 at 05:48

    Dave,Phoenix,USA:Congrats for telling the truth,well done.There is no persecution for religious practice in USA and our masjids in New Jersey,Fremont and in other states do have minarets,although we do not herald azaans through loudspeakers.

  58. December 1, 2009 at 06:15

    Dear Sir,

    The Swiss are not paranoia but acting in the best interests of the people.

    Where have the Muslims ever integrated with the culture of the country they have decided to immigrate to.

    They start of by being docile and as their numbers grow they become more and more vocal in their demands, staging demonstrations to get what they demand.

    Australia gave them a clear warning that they either integrate or go back to the country they came from. It was their choice to come to Australia and not Australia inviting them to come.

    The minarets make the place look so much like an Islamic state, thus showing that it is a state within a state. Is that what a country wants?

    It is best to know that 9/11 has brought out this phenomenon so that we know what the attitude of the Islamic people are really after. They want to Islamicise the countries they immigrate to without haveing to conquer it.

    Yes what Switzerland has done if a very good step and I hope other countries follow suit.

    Philip.

  59. 69 R.Rivas
    December 1, 2009 at 06:23

    The Swiss don’t want to see the symbol of Islam dominating their landscape.

  60. December 1, 2009 at 08:13

    To a certain extent the problem is that the only Muslims we hear are the ones who have views that the media regard as “interesting”. The majority of Muslims are peaceable folk who ask nothing better than to live their own lives and let others get on with theirs. Strangely, none of those get time on radio or television!

    As for the nutty views of the extremists, there are some American Christians whose intentions once they rule the world are extremely worrying and I have heard Jews speculating gleefully on how they are going to treat the “goyim” once the Messiah comes. (Judging by how they treat the Palestinians, us non-Jews are in for a pretty thin time of it!)

    As for moderate Muslims failing to deal with their extremist brethren, let’s face it: if some nutty church in central London was promoting violence and slaughter, how many of us would a) know about it, b) go along to the church to try and control it? I wish that moderate Muslims would be more proactive about going to the police when they hear a fanatic preacher mouthing off, but it’s difficult to blame them for thinking – like the rest of us – that it’s someone else’s problem.

  61. 71 J Moss
    December 6, 2009 at 04:21

    How many years do you think until countries start banning Christian churches or crosses on their steeples? Then continue to ban any public display of religion? And then continue to ban practice of religion? Do you really think this is just about Muslims? They are only the first to be targeted. This will systematically continue, with different justifications, possibly from different political sides, until all culture has been destroyed except for the emerging culture of materialism and government control of individuality.

    • 72 John Doe (a dear)
      December 6, 2009 at 23:31

      First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
      Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
      Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Muslim;
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.


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