27 November 2009

The Tolerant and Peaceful Swiss

According to this report from AP, Sunday there will be a referendum in Switzerland on whether or not to ban Minarets throughout the country. The political right (which is quite robust in the country) is pushing the 'vote yes' campaign on grounds that the Minaret is a symbol of power, that Islam is not simply a religion but a political/legal/cultural system at odds with the Swiss constitution. The posters capture the alleged menace.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't characterize the Swiss citizens who voted to resist a political theology that's opposed to democratic government, free speech, and equal rights for women and homosexuals as right wing.

29 November, 2009 17:05  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


So you'd not object to them banning the steeples on roman catholic churches?

That said (and not in jest), the AP report states: "The Swiss People's Party joined forces with the fringe Federal Democratic Union in the campaign." Both parties seem to be nationalistic and vigorously anti-immigrant.

I am hardly expert on Swiss party politics; so here are the Wikipedia characterizations of the two parties:

"Originally, the SVP was a centrist party founded in 1917 representing farmers. . . . However, beginning in the 1980s, it transformed itself to a right-wing conservative party under the unofficial leadership of entrepreneur Christoph Blocher.

The party currently positions itself to the right of the political spectrum and has a reputation for using uncompromising rhetoric. Among political opponents, it has also gained the reputation as a party which simplifies opposing policies while making use of populism and polarization."


"The FDU is a party which is socially conservative, and skeptical toward the European Union. The party opposes equal rights for homosexual couples. Furthermore, the party opposes abortion, euthanasia, and liberal heroin policies."

29 November, 2009 17:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks for the response.

You're right, the folks who put this initiative on the table belong to political parties of the right wing persuasion. The Swiss citizens who voted for this measure, though, are not. They're ordinary folks, most of which are quite liberal and tolerant. This outcome is the result of the fiasco that erupted over the Danish cartoons. That was a watershed moment for Europe's multiculturalists and has put a lot of folks on edge.

My opinion is that this is not a referendum on Islam as much as it is an affirmation of Europe as a place of tolerance, democracy, and freedom of expression.

29 November, 2009 19:37  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

D ~

You may be right about the voters (many at least) but they seem susceptible to the right's framing of the issue. After all the People's party is either the largest or second largest in the national legislature. The Swiss government (and several international entities like the UN) all opposed the measure.

I agree with your assessment of the need to defend toleration and freedom and so forth. But I doubt very much that that is what the sponsors of this legislation have in mind.

PS: I hope all is well with you!

29 November, 2009 20:26  

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