Saturday, December 05, 2009

Guest Post: democracy in Switzerland

Please note: the author is not The Lovely Trixy

Minarets and direct democracy

Since last Sunday it seems that Switzerland has become a country with an intolerant population, a place where the freedom of religion doesn’t count anymore. I’d like to give a reflection about this issue. What happened? The Swiss decided about an initiative, launched by the Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP) and other small parties and organizations, for banning the construction of minarets in Switzerland. 57% of the Swiss citizens said yes to this initiative in a referendum.

What was the case history leading to this initiative? In four different towns in Switzerland there exist minarets. Those exist since the 1960s. Since 2006 there have been applications by many Muslims all over Switzerland to build new minarets. The residents of the affected towns in Switzerland argued and protested against the construction of these new buildings. That’s why a national committee launched this initiative and collected more than 100000 signatures for it: they wanted a clear and consistent rule for or against the construction of minarets in the whole country.

The minaret is not part of the religious practice of Islam. The minaret is a sign of power, rulership and conquest, which is also confirmed by experts on the Islamic culture and religion. The minaret is a symbol of a political Islam and shows its dominance in a country. In 1997, the mayor of Istanbul and today’s Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, compared minarets with bayonets.

That’s the reason why a committee started a campaign against these buildings. The minaret is only the first step of further demands. Soon afterwards they claim the Muezzin, the introducing of the Sharia law and the acceptance of those rules. We could see these developments in other countries and cities, where the beginning was similar. And now, in the suburbs of Berlin or Paris, a parallel society has established and the Sharia is the only law which counts.

And even in Switzerland we have problems with some muslim families. I am talking about girls who are not allowed to go in swimming lessons and I am talking about forced marriages. Our politicians didn’t want resolve these wrongs. I don’t know why, maybe because of Political Correctness, who knows. But now, after the referendum, we can talk about these problems. We can talk about what kind of Islam we want in Switzerland and which parts of it are incompatible to our laws and orders.

Please let me say: This initiative was and is not against religious freedom. Muslim people are allowed – as well as Christians, Jews, Hindi and all others – to practise their religion freely at home and in their mosques. But the minaret is not necessary for the Muslim people to pray. It is important to understand that this initiative was never against the Islamic religion. But in a Christian country it is not acceptable that other religions show signs of power or conquest. That would be a negation of the Christian roots and the origin of the Swiss culture.

The initiative was supported by the Swiss People’s Party which represents the conservative-libertarian wing of the Swiss Parliament. But also feminist groups and the society of ex-muslims advised a yes. All other parties and the Swiss Federal Council – the executive of Switzerland – did not support the initiative. According to this fact, the clear result of almost 60% of yes-votes in this referendum is obvious. It represents the great majority of the Swiss voters and their will.

After the referendum, I was really shocked and upset about the reaction of the political elite and the press in foreign countries. “Switzerland is intolerant, Switzerland breaks human rights laws, Switzerland has to vote again about this initiative.” What the hell is that? The initiative was launched by a committee which has collected more than 100’000 signatures for it. There was a debate in the Swiss Parliament and there were a lot of town hall meetings, talks and adversary podiums to inform the people during the referendum campaign. The discussions were factual. And now, a majority of 57% said yes to this initiative. To say that this initiative breaks human rights laws or restricts the freedom of religion, that’s not true. The minaret is not necessary for praying and there are a lot of mosques – even in Islamic countries – which has no minaret.

It is a shame, that foreign countries criticise the democratic vote of the Swiss people. I think that politicians from France, the UK or Germany should resolve their problems firstly. In Britain there are Islamic fanatics who are shouting “Freedom go to hell” and “Sharia is the answer”. In Holland, a stage director was killed because he produced a islam-critical movie. In Denmark, cartoons “provocated” massive and violent riots. Before those politicians say, that the freedom of religion is menaced in Switzerland, they should wonder if the freedom of speech is still in force in their own country. And a revision is no option. The Swiss will not act like the Irish: To vote until the political elite is satisfied.

The people don’t want minarets; they don’t want a political Islam. And not only Swiss think so. Just read the messages on Times online, Spiegel online (Germany) or Krone Zeitung (Austria). Most people also want to have a referendum about those issues. It shows me that the politicians – and the press too – are really far away from the will of the people.

David Herzig

7 comments:

scunnert said...

Right on bro!

Malthebof said...

Governments doing what the people tell them: we can't have that too populist, they will be demanding democracy next.

George said...

For a libertarian, you don't seem to give much of a shit about property rights. Why should 60% of people have a right to vote on a blanket ban on doing a certain - entirely harmless - thing with one's own property? Planning permission should be sought on individual merit.

Tastes like chicken said...

Lets try a little test:

There are rich, hypothetical, Muslims, who live in and own deep valleys in Switzerland surrounded by high mountains. One muslim owns so much land in the valley and the mountains that no neighbour can see the valley floor. The clouds over the valley mean even pilots of light aircraft struggle to see down to the valley floor.

He/she decides to build a tower that looks like a minaret on his/her land. But it turns out that there's a national *law* against such towers.

A test for you, dear reader, rating you on a scale between facism/authoritarianism and libertarianism is:

1. Should such a law prevent this tower?
2. By what right does *anybody else* (swiss or otherwise) other than the land-owner have to prevent this tower?

North Northwester said...

"By what right does *anybody else* (swiss or otherwise) other than the land-owner have to prevent this tower?"
TLC - the answer is 'self-defence,' and the reason it's self defence is that there are many, many things in life that can harm you - and living in a state where minarets are banned be plebiscite is not the worst.

The non-hypothetical Islamists know just what they're doing, and it ain't whistling Dixie.

Tastes like chicken said...

Then you are a sad frightened fascistic individual NN.

I gave you a let-out - a special case - that no one could see a tower. Yet you've demonstrated a new and possibly un-reported phobia - a "fear of architecture".

You would rather live in a state where such towers are banned? What happens next? What do *you* do personally that someone else is frightened of? Do you drive a faster than average car? Do you play music slightly louder than average? Should the state ban these as well?


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 Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

North Northwester said...

Tastes like chicken…

Name-calling from the start? Tends to make people doubt your ability to argue.


I'm frightened indeed by the ever-present and growing triumphalism of Islamists in Britain and abroad and I want it halted. There are places in Britain where 'local' Muslims inform the local white people that they are not wanted - and where their attacks on white Britons go unpunished and indeed uninvestigated.

This county and others abound with terrorist supporters and the imams who encourage their hatred of and attacks on the native people and traditions. The Islamist Turkish Prime Minister quoted from a poem about the function of these construction , saying that ”Minarets are our bayonets” in his triumphalist way. They aren’t necessary for Muslim worship, and post-date Mohammed by centuries.

“You would rather live in a state where such towers are banned?”
Yes– likewise statues of Hitler, burning crosses, effigies of the hangings of racial minorities and gays. A sense of proportion is always needed – but is sometimes absent from libertarian purists.

“What happens next?” Peaceful and law-abiding Muslims worship modestly as they have done from their immigration or births, and don’t get to boast ‘we’re on top here, so don’t criticise us, don’t say our co-religionists are terrorists even when it’s true, and don’t investigate our charming practice of daughter- because Islam is every bit and cuddly bunny as soppy reformed Christianity these days, don’t you know?’
And nothing else will happen. Personally, I’m still waiting for the much-threatened anti-Muslim ‘backlash against 9/11, 7/7, Glasgow, Madrid, Bombay, etc. It seems that we just can’t get a proper lynch mob mentality up here in the modern Christianized West. Maybe it’s only the religion of peace that sees it necessary to riot and intimidate others?

“What do *you* do personally that someone else is frightened of? Do you drive a faster than average car? Do you play music slightly louder than average? Should the state ban these as well?”

If I break the speed laws or the noise pollution laws as a result of upsetting and intimidating folk thus, I’d expect to be punished. Minarets are purely political statements of power; uncanonical and new as are the niquab.
See, that’s where the sense of proportion thing would come in handy for you.

Speaking of which:


“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 Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

What is it about liberals generally and other rationalists that they don’t possess any useful idea that different things are different things? We’re talking about banning overt political statements of an aggressive ideology that enforces its power forcefully wherever it governs entire countries here – not arresting the peaceful practitioners of the peaceful sub-sects of a warlike ideology. I can tell the difference; why can’t you and all the other liberals and socialists?
Do you quote that poem when you get a parking ticket? Speeding fine? Late library book return fine?

Property rights are not the only protections of freedom we need: I’m sure all the 7/7 terrorists lawfully purchases the materials for their bombs, though they may have broken some statist laws to get the explosives onto the Tube.

See, this is why conservatism is superior to creeds such as ultra-rationalist libertarianism – we know the secret that property rights under the rule of law aren’t enough to keep civilized life going – and in war “The moral is to the physical as three to one.”.


Good blogger name, though