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Thread: Switzerland bans minarets

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Switzerland bans minarets

    Switzerland has passed a ban on the construction of minarets on buildings - the classic muslim tower(s) at mosques. Interesting concept in banning particular architectural feature which is a particular icon to a certain faith/heritage (but not quite the same as cities banning metal buldings).
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Yes, that will solve the problem of religious extremism. Sheer idiocy

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Note that it was a ban on minarets, not mosques.

    Islam and Muslims have become complex issues in Europe. It's too easy to rashly criticize the ban from afar if you haven't been aware of the multiple touchy issues surrounding Islam in Europe.

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    Note that it was a ban on minarets, not mosques.

    Islam and Muslims have become complex issues in Europe. It's too easy to rashly criticize the ban from afar if you haven't been aware of the multiple touchy issues surrounding Islam in Europe.
    I am aware of the touchy issues surrounding Islam in Europe, but I think this is more to do with a new wave of xenophobia that seems to have been happening in Switzerland (and Austria) for the last few years now with backlashes against new immigrants from all religions and all different nationalities.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hrrummmppff......

    What a stupid thing to do......

    Minarets can be a fresh and exciting form of architecture for us in the West. I wonder, do they consider domes to be a kind of minaret? An example of the Swiss not being so neutral anymore.....see IRS cooperation example

    I always liked the domes used to cap this Hard Rock Hotel building in Hollywood Florida and wish they had expanded on the idea a bit:

    http://images.hotel-rates.com/hotels...CK-exter-1.jpg
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    There's xenophobia.

    There's protecting one's heritage.

    And there's a very large, murky ground in between the two.

    A great deal of the backlash has to do with the perception that the new (predominately muslim) immigrants are resisting and even deliberately violating the progressive liberal values of modern Europe.

    See why it's such a cumbersome issue?

    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I am aware of the touchy issues surrounding Islam in Europe, but I think this is more to do with a new wave of xenophobia that seems to have been happening in Switzerland (and Austria) for the last few years now with backlashes against new immigrants from all religions and all different nationalities.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I understand many of the problems and difficulties that European nations are experiencing with regard to immigrants, and Muslim immigrants in particular (especially with very little experience being a "melting pot" as compared to the US, Canada, Australia, etc), but this just strikes me as passive-aggressive nothingness. What exactly is this supposed to accomplish?
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    It could tell a variety of stories, depending on your perspective, of course.

    It tells Muslims who's in charge.

    It tells Muslims that Islam is not compatible with Swiss values and Swiss heritage.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss are leery, suspicious and resentful of the Muslim residents in their country.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss would be just fine and dandy if the 4% Muslim minority were to leave their country forever.

    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post

    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    Very good point PP.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  10. #10
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    You silly americans with your poly-theistic cultures. Why can't you be more like us in Europe and hate people and smoke clove cigarettes! We have long been intolerant of religions and have been since the crusades. We carried this tradition on through World War II and even modern Ireland.

    Of course, what shall I expect out of persons who give us Budwieser and Walmart stores?

    At one time, much of Southern Europe was controlled by Islam and the north by tribal druids. Why wasn't their culture protected?
    Last edited by DetroitPlanner; 01 Dec 2009 at 9:22 AM.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    I realize you're not attempting to be an apologist for anyone, but understand that the people judging these actions here on Cyburbia are for the most part Americans and accordingly bring our own ethnocentric beliefs. From an American perspective simply passing a law prohibiting the display of religious symbols or practices would very much qualify as religious intolerance - that is spelled out explicitly in our Constitution. Few other countries on earth, however, share this level of religious freedom and in all probability the majority of folks that are religious minorities elsewhere do not feel oppressed so long as their respective governments do not pass laws that prohibit them from practicing their religion. That said, there are forces at work in Europe now that are actively trying to eliminate the outward expression of Muslim religious practices. This most recent Swiss action is but one instance.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4616664.stm
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/eu...426849249.html

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ah....hold on there skippy.....

    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post

    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    DUBAI APPEARS TO BE A PLACE OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    When you bring in a group of people who are vastly different in culture and display it proudly, it creates friction against people who want to preserve their own culture. I think of it like the Californians invading the other states are spreading their culture. Just because you screwed up your state, don't come around and screw up ours. This is not to say Muslim countries are screwed up, but the Swiss don't want to blend cultures, and removing visible signs like minarets is they're way of doing it.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I don't know why this makes me happy. Not that there are these sorts of dumb issues in the world - they're terrible. But just the fact Europeans have these issues, an issue the US is constantly lambasted about (xenophobia, racism, etc), on a much larger scale than we do, and their solutions have been much more overt than ours.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    It could tell a variety of stories, depending on your perspective, of course.

    It tells Muslims who's in charge.

    It tells Muslims that Islam is not compatible with Swiss values and Swiss heritage.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss are leery, suspicious and resentful of the Muslim residents in their country.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss would be just fine and dandy if the 4% Muslim minority were to leave their country forever.
    Perhaps. But it's still passive-aggressive, and I doubt you'd meet many Swiss who would say exactly what you just said. Their constitution specifically prohibits restricting religious freedom, so they're going around that by prohibiting a type of architecture?

    I spent six years living in Europe (four in the Netherlands and two in Spain), and I can tell you that the Swiss like to portray themselves as the most tolerant and enlightened people on earth. In fact, I remember being specifically called out in one political science class by a Swiss guy who claimed that I came from the "most intolerant developed country in the world." The Swiss can do whatever they want, this just seems very out of character for them, and like TexanOkie this makes me chuckle a little bit, especially thinking of some of the few Swiss folks that I know or have known.

    It seems especially weird, considering that the VAST majority of Muslims in Switzerland are from the Balkans, not the Middle East, Asia, or Africa. Balkan Muslims are pretty secular, and considering the treatment of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo over the past 20 years, this is likely to cause some hurt feelings on the part of that group.

    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    Wait, what? No one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance? News to me.
    Last edited by CJC; 01 Dec 2009 at 11:56 AM.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian kalimotxo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    It could tell a variety of stories, depending on your perspective, of course.

    It tells Muslims who's in charge.

    It tells Muslims that Islam is not compatible with Swiss values and Swiss heritage.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss are leery, suspicious and resentful of the Muslim residents in their country.

    It tells Muslims that the Swiss would be just fine and dandy if the 4% Muslim minority were to leave their country forever.

    I live in Dubai, and non-Muslim religions are prohibited from displaying religious symbols. While there are a handful of churches, church steeples and visible crosses are explicitly prohibited. Same for Hindu temples. Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    I guess it does depend on one's perspective, and yours is vaguely colored with typical Western reactionary Islamophobia.

    This is not, as you say, a matter of "protecting one's heritage." This is a country that has a long history of multiculturalism and no official state religion somewhat suddenly targeting and discriminating against one single religious group. It doesn't tell Muslims "who's in charge"; it tells them that they are going to be specifically discriminated against. I don't agree with your characterizations of "the Swiss"; policies like this have been precipitated singularly by the SVP and are anomalous to the country's historical attitudes toward foreign cultures.

    I have many Swiss friends, and they are not "leery, resentful, and suspicious" of Muslims. They are resentful of people like Christoph Blocher and his SVP, outright racists who use the same scare tactics many American "conservatives" do to scare up votes and support. The fact that a mouthbreather like Glenn Beck is able to incite millions of Americans to wave teabags around and claim Obama is a Muslim/Kenyan/Fascist/Communazi doesn't mean that's the majority opinion of the American people.

    You can say what you will about what this referendum implies about the Swiss and their attitude toward Muslims, but this referendum is the result of the incredibly xenophobic SVP building up a false bogeyman and scaring up enough votes to pass it. Please don't taint the millions of reasonable citizens of Switzerland with your own, clearly biased "perspective" of Muslims in their society.

    Also, this is me calling Dubai a place of religious intolerance.
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  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    58% of the Swiss voted in favor of the ban, and if you throw in the people who voted against the ban for religious freedom principle but who privately didn't want to see any minarets (certainly there must be a few), it's safe for me to assume that the solid majority, and close to a very substantial majority, of the Swiss don't want minarets in their country.

    To argue otherwise is akin as saying please don't say the Americans voted for Barack Obama because 46% of the population voted for John McCain.

    I have spent considerable time overseas (read, years) in the UK, the Middle East and the Far East, and what the experiences have taught me is that every place in the world is framed by its own geopolitical, historical, social and economic context, and that its reactions to the issues facing the country are very much going to be dependent on those contexts. That is why I always refrain from making sweeping judgmental statements on racism, xenophobism or however you have it.

    Such as some of you are making about Dubai's religious intolerance. Half the emirate's population is from the Indian subcontinent, and a full 40% from India alone, and they exist along a sizable Filipino minority, and it's possible that if you crunch the numbers the slight majority of Dubai's population may not be Muslim. Yet the laws of the country is such that this is an Islamic country by value and by heritage, and non-Islamic religious symbols are not allowed in public view, and the Emirati passport clearly states that an Emirati must be a Muslim. No one, especially not the expats, complain and most of us respect the wishes of the rulers and citizens of Dubai.

    But to call it religious intolerance is rather far off the mark. Within the context of that Islamic state is a surprising degree of religious freedom: churches and temples exist, and are free from dangers of bombing or riots as is the case in Pakistan, Christmas decorations are found at the shopping malls, and plenty of Muslims come to Dubai from other parts of the world to both practice their religion freely and to not have to practice their religion, depending on where they came from. It is a form of religious freedom within the context of an Islamic state, which has been widely praised by the UK press and the NYTimes.

    The point? Different places have ways of doing things differently, and guess what? Most of the world survives quite nicely.

    This is reflected in Barack Obama's foreign policy objective, which has differed from earlier presidents in recognizing that a lot of the world operate differently from the Americans, and that just because it's different from the American style doesn't mean it automatically has to be bad or corrected (which we've learned from our Middle East fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan). If anything, Obama's displayed remarkable sensitivity to the need not to establish a certain American hegemony over the world's practices and expected behaviors. He's stumbled in parts of his foreign policy approach, but otherwise this is a strategy that's well worth learning from him.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I think of it like the Californians invading the other states are spreading their culture. Just because you screwed up your state, don't come around and screw up ours. .
    This is really one of the more assanine statements I've read on here in a while.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Seems like a great way to radicalize Swiss muslims.

    It may be hard for an American to understand the cultural norms of a place like Dubai but Switzerland is a country that has similar "western" ideals of religious freedom as the US. I think we can safely fire away at the supporters of this law as racist idiots.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    58% of the Swiss voted in favor of the ban, and if you throw in the people who voted against the ban for religious freedom principle but who privately didn't want to see any minarets (certainly there must be a few), it's safe for me to assume that the solid majority, and close to a very substantial majority, of the Swiss don't want minarets in their country.
    I don't really see how this matters. There are plenty of US states where a majority of the population would probably do the same (perhaps even the entire country might), or even vote to establish Christianity as the state religion. The Swiss Constitution, much like the US Constitution (and the constitutions of dozens of other "western" countries), has a set of rights and freedoms enshrined in it specifically to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

    The Swiss Constitution also has rules in place that require HUGE loops to be jumped through in order to change any of those rights and freedoms (again, similar to the US and other constitutions). This was a way of getting around that by the supporters, because hey, it's just a limit on architecture.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    Yet no one calls Dubai a place of religious intolerance for most people accept the clear understanding that this is a Muslim country by heritage and by value of its ruling class and native population.
    UMM some of us cal it an intolerant country. Try being gay there.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet View post
    UMM some of us cal it an intolerant country. Try being gay there.
    I guess all things are relative. They're pretty tolerant compared to, say, Iran (keep in mind Iran doesn't have any gays ) or Saudi Arabia, but not in league with the US

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I guess all things are relative. They're pretty tolerant compared to, say, Iran (keep in mind Iran doesn't have any gays ) or Saudi Arabia, but not in league with the US
    They are probably more tolerant than Uganda
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  24. #24
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    They are probably more tolerant than Uganda
    Sorry to hijack the thread. Yes, I saw the recent articles about whats going on in Uganda. Repulsive.

  25. #25
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I see this on so many other message boards whenever the topic of discrimination in that country comes up, Basically, discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender and so on in the United States is wrong (as it should be), but it's perfectly fine for other countries. (I think it's a variant of the "Americans drool, Europeans rule" theme often seen in message board threads, where the worst of the United States is compared with the best of Europe.) When another culture or country is called on their racism, the response is usually either a demonstration of a tu quoque logical fallacy such as "AMERIKKKA I$ WOR$E", or "They have their reasons, which are perfectly valid given their circumstances and history, and we shouldn't impose our values on them".

    A hostess in a restaurant in the US accidentally seats a white couple before a black couple? Boycott them! A hot spring in Japan bans Westerners? Well, that's just because the dirty roundeyes doesn't respect such sacred institutions of Glorious Nippon, and besides, they probably have their reasons which are perfectly justified given their long history, which we wouldn't understand. A city in the US tries to keep out Orthodox Jewish institutions? FAIL. An entire country bans minarets? Well, they're just trying to preserve their heritage.

    Some in this thread have said that the Swiss are justified in the minaret ban because they have a right to preserve their cultural heritage against what they see as a looming threat. It's the same defense Southern whites used to defend segregation in the 1950s and 1960s -- "It's our heritage" -- yet that was widely, and correctly seen as wrong.

    On other message boards, I saw arguments defending the Swiss ban based on preserving the traditional Swiss built environment; that minarets clash with the classic Alpine chalet-style of architecture. Well, so does pomo, and the Swiss have embraced it. Switzerland is also not immune to standardized corporate architecture, such as this McDonalds or this gas station. From the photos I've seen, typical European chain hypermarkets, home improvement stores and their equivalent make those in the US look like architectural masterpieces in comparison. Switzerland is not a theme park of yodelers, St. Bernards and timber-framed chalets, and if they accept something like a McDonalds that wouldn't look out of place in Anywhere, Missouri, why not a minaret?

    I'll end this with a more enlightened quote from another message board.

    Pretty remarkable bit of thinking here. It seems that, in order to prevent the spread of extremist Islamism and encourage the assimilation of the Muslim community, the Swiss are choosing to do everything within their power to make sure the Muslim population feels isolated and excluded from Swiss political culture. Well done!
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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