The Swiss Say No to Minarets
Either Islam will be Europeanized, or
Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamized and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society
.Europe has denied its Christian roots from which it has risen and which could give it the strength to fend off the danger that it will be conquered by Muslims, which is actually happening gradually. (Czech Archbishop Miloslav VIk)
The shot recently fired by little
In late November, 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters called for a ban on building any additional minarets which are tower-like structures from which the Muslim faithful are called to their five daily prayers.
And so it went. The headline in Timesonline says it all: Europe Unites to Deplore Swiss Ban on Minarets. Even Church leaders joined the chorus of condemnation. The head of the Vatican Council on Migration said that the Swiss ban is a hard blow against freedom of religion and integration. The Conference of Swiss Bishops condemned the ban because it heightens the problem of cohabitation between religion and culture.
The French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was scandalized by the ban, which he perceives to be a form of oppression. Ironically, the French President Nicolas Sarkozy defended the Swiss. Writing in Le Monde he said that they acted out of fear about a loss of identity. Instead of condemning the Swiss, he wrote that we should try to understand what they meant to express and what so many people in
The Muslim press was united in its condemnation of the Swiss. The 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said that the ban is an example of growing anti-Islamic incitement in
Abdul Rahman Shaheen, of gulfnews.com, reported that several Saudi Islamic scholars interpret the Swiss action as more proof of Western antagonism towards Islam and a sign of a new hostile campaign against that religion. Shaikh Murshid Al Motairi, a noted Saudi preacher, advocated the launching of a massive campaign to withdraw investments of Muslim countries from Swiss banks and halt going to
The critics of the Swiss move against minarets argue that it is a violation of the Muslims freedom of religion, and that minarets are harmless expressions of the Islamic faith. In any case, there is a strong likelihood that the minaret restriction will be appealed and overturned by the Swiss Courts. The Swiss Minister of Justice suggested that possibility. The Swiss Green Party is considering to lodge a complaint at the European Court of Human Rights.
It must be remembered that this ban does not affect the Swiss Muslims freedom to live their faith. Existing mosques in
Yet these very same imams who issue fatwas against the infidels dare to lecture the Swiss about their alleged intolerance. Many mosque goers, even in the West, are taught to despise all non-Muslims. Thats how even in
The fact is that minarets serve as symbols of Islamic supremacy. Here is a seminal statement made in 1998 by the current Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan: The mosques are our barracks, the domes are our helmets, the minarets are our swords, and the faithful are our army.
Barbara Kay got to the heart of the issue when she wrote in a posting on the Website of the National Post:
You will not find church steeples in Muslim countries. No other religious symbol would ever be allowed to challenge the dominance of Islam. Minarets in Western countries are meant as a statement of cultural challenge: They say in their own tangible and unavoidable way, " Islam is the religion you must literally look up to." The Swiss were right to nip this thorny flower in the bud.
Note the Context
What is the real significance of the Swiss vote on minarets? Is it a thoughtless reaction of the great unwashed against the ruling elite as the latter would like us to believe? Or is it a legitimate statement of profound concern about the spread of an aggressive Islam that has no respect for the traditions of the host countries? Is it no more than an expression of Islamophobia?
In a recent discussion about this topic, someone told me: I am not sure that putting a stop to the building of minarets is worthy of the name spiritual battle against Islam. That seems so artificial and does not address the real issues. Its more of an insult policy.
I think he has a point, but only up to a point. Like everything having to do with Islam, the context of this issue is of vital importance. Let me reiterate and expand on three components of this context alluded to above.
One. The significance of symbolism.
The western elite, so quick to condemn the Swiss ban, has no idea of the powerful influence of symbolism in Islam. Westerners have little respect for history and symbolism the two are closely intertwined. They are now-oriented. Not so, the Muslims who pay a great deal of attention to the symbolic meaning of the highlights of their 1400-year history. This is why Osama bin Ladens fatwas against the West are laced with references to 15th century
Two. Many mosques are incubators of radicalism.
Prime Minister Erdogan statement quoted above suggests that the mosque, its size, location and structure is padded with symbolic meaning. His use of the words barracks, helmets, swords, and army hint at an aggressive, even military purpose. They are apt terms because mosques often play a central role in promoting a violent version of Islam. How many stories have we not heard about young Muslims who were inspired by radical Muslim preachers and mentors to join the jihadists? In
The mosques provide a religious cover that makes the authorities reluctant to ferret out those Muslim individuals and organizations bent on advancing the cause of radical Islam so that the rule of Allah becomes supreme. This is happening in every Western country with a sizeable Muslim community. It is even occurring in the
These books tell the story of infiltration by Muslims in many key areas of society, cunningly enabled by such organizations as the Council on American-Islamic Relations - which has a branch in
Three.The matter of reciprocity.
To be sure, most Muslims are not terrorists. Some have been outspoken in their rejection of jihad, and many appreciate the full freedom of religion they enjoy in the West. These Muslims should be prepared to speak out publicly against radicalism. Furthermore, they should be encouraged to use their ties to their countries of origin to demand equal freedom for the now often persecuted Christians and other non-Muslims. From our side, it would make sense for Christians, Protestants and Roman Catholics, to formulate a manifesto in defence of the freedom of religion for all. Western governments should become more insistent in demanding from the Islamic countries that they accord the same kind of freedom to Christians and other non-Muslims as those enjoyed by all Muslims in the West. The West has a number of tools available to accomplish that, but seems to lack the will.
No Other Options
Now back to the Swiss ban on the building of minarets. Could it be that its supporters had an intuitive sense of what has escaped the sophisticated? Did they grasp what Archbishop Miloslav VIK meant by the words quoted at the top of this article? What could they do? Not much. But they saw one possibility, which is unique to the Swiss democratic form of government - and they used it. Their move, now widely condemned and caricatured, was a whimper not a bang - and may well be undone.
What has it accomplished? Looked at in isolation, not much. But considered in the context of the observation by Bernard Lewis and the Archbishop VIk, it assumes a world of meaning. For it is a reminder that
In mulling this over, we do well to remember this advice from the atheist German philosopher, Jurgen Habermas:
Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilization. To this day, we have no other options. We continue to nourish ourselves from this source. Everything else is postmodern chatter.
Something to ponder.