Posted by: expaticainhelvetica | November 30, 2009

Screaming from the Minarets

The Swiss voted yesterday on a number of referendums, similar to how the US votes on different proposals (i.e. dog racing, tax increases, public funding for sports stadiums, gay marriage, etc).  One of the big issues up for vote was whether or not to allow minarets on mosques, courtesy of the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP).  The argument being that minarets are not necessary, could destroy the scenic Swiss skyline, and are a sign of the Islamization of Switzerland.  At last count, 400,000 Swiss residents are Muslim, making it the country’s third-largest religion.

Well, the ban passed, meaning no additional minarets can be built on Swiss soil (there are currently four that exist).  I’m shocked and appalled by this decision as this flies in the face of religious freedom, stereotypes the Muslim religion as being something to fear, and continues to minimize the rights of Muslims (we’ve seen similar issues in France with the banning of the hijab).   I’m even more shocked that over 57% of voters supported the ban, when prior to the vote it was expected to be shot down.

The propoganda the SVP distributed prior to the vote was nauseating.  The ad that was most prevalent was the one below, playing on the topic of fear and seen at nearly all the train stations and many bus or trolley stops.  Some cantons banned the ad, but others didn’t saying banning the ad would encroach on freedom of speech:

The world has reacted swiftly, condemning the Swiss.  BBC has covered the news closely and a good article on the reaction can be found here.  Additionally, an English-languaged website that covers Swiss news has followed the topic from the beginning, so if you want more information, I recommend you go here.

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