That’s it — We’ll Ban Minarets! Really?!?

Much is being made of a successful movement by Swiss feminists to ban the display of minarets atop Mosques in Switzerland, and while I find the subplots intriguing–both the UK Times and Sky News have referred to the movement as “right-wing,” for example–I’m having trouble with the practicality of such a maneuver.

Jews and Christians in the United States have watched as mezuzahs have been pulled from the doors of offices in municipal buildings, and the Ten Commandments have been removed from courthouse courtyards, yet despite all of the understandable outrage and disgust, we aren’t any less Jewish or Christian than we were before the removal of such traditional indicators of our faiths.

If the motivation is honestly rooted in a feminist attack on Islam for the faith’s degradation of women, I get that. It’s not hard to see the lack of gender equality and equitability among Muslims. But, golly, when you look at all the tenets of Islam as they pertain to women, shouldn’t there be more for the average Swiss feminist to complain about than the perceived phallic nature of a minaret?

And if the motivation behind the ban is somehow to protest or spurn the spread of radical Islamic jihad, I just don’t see the rational connection. As far as I know, not every mosque is home to a minaret anyway, and minaret manipulation certainly doesn’t seem to be high on the list of grievances of your average, everyday suicide bomber.

Any way you look at it, the ban is interesting, the banter is intriguing, but that’s about it. If it happened here in the United States, you’d better believe that the ACLU would be on it like a burqa on a Muslim woman, and rightly so. At best, it’s a ban on traditional structures inherent to a given religion. It wouldn’t be right for crosses to be torn from church steeples, and it’s not right for minarets to be banned from sitting atop mosques.

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  1. Robert Wallace says:

    I actually hadn't heard the feminist angle yet, but I really liked David Kopel's take.

    He made two key points.

    FIrst of all he talked about the perceived threat of "shariahism":

    "Proponents frequently cited the 1997 words of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “Mosques are our barracks, domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets, believers our soldiers. This holy army guards my religion.”"

    And also:

    "According to the website of the initiative’s proponents, the argument was that minarets are intended as a symbol of Muslim superiority, particularly of superiority to any different religious/political system, and accordingly a vote against minarets is a vote against creeping shariaism."

    But he also pointed out that it was Swiss political elites who actually provoked the backlash, and that innocent Muslims are caught in the political crossfire:

    "Back in 2003, after I visited Geneva, I wrote the following for my Rocky Mountain News media column: “Local investigative reporting appears weak. A Swiss television station recently exposed a secret deal between the Geneva police and the Iranian government: The Iranians would not commit terror in Switzerland, while the Geneva police would turn a blind eye to Iranian terror bases in Geneva. In the United States, such a revelation would set off a frenzy of newspapers advancing the story with further investigation about a gigantic local police scandal, but the Geneva papers did little with the story.”

    This is just one of many examples of the Swiss elite’s feckless and amoral dealing with the Islamonazis of Tehran. Roger L. Simon has written extensively about the Islamist hate-fest at the UN’s “Durban II” conference earlier this year in Geneva, where “I watched as the Swiss President welcomed the Holocaust-denying-nuclear-bomb-buliding-mega-misogynistic-homosexual-denying-and-now-demonstrator-murdering-religious-psychopath President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

    The Swiss government has provoked a backlash from the Swiss people. The decent, pro-freedom Swiss Muslims from places like Albania, who see a minaret as symbolizing nothing more than a Muslim parallel to a church spire, are the innocent victims."

    http://volokh.com/2009/11/30/swiss-vote-to-ban-minarets/

  2. PEME says:

    Jeff:

    This was not about the way women are treated under Islam, this vote reflected a growing discomfort amond the Swiss that, if the bulding of minarets were allowed to continue, how far behind could sharia law be? It is not only popular, but correct to suppress anything that has the potential to alter society in a way that would be undesirable by the whole. Muslims have already infiltrated Britain and France to such an extent that law enforcement is intimidated from going into certain areas where the imams have declared sharia law. The encroachment of Islam into western culture should be slowed or downright stopped and I applaud the Swiss voters for having the courage to stand up and be counted as politically incorrect.

    Tolerance has it's place, but surrendering the culture to those who would eventually impose sharia law, and who beleive it is their divine right to kill the infidels, subjugate, and rule the rest of the world is absolutely insane.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Swiss have had enough. They have seen what is happening all over Europe and they know what is in store for them. Where do you draw the line? The muslims do not just want to live in the country; they want to control it and impose sharia law. Europe is paying on a daily basis for not saying "no" and forcefully. Every day their are new clashes in some part of this area between muslims who want their way, but whose way in many cases imposes restrictions on the rest of the population.

    Maybe the minarets seem to be a trivial thing to many, but they are symbolic to the moslems. I believe we will soon be faced with the same situations in our own country since Obama seems to believe the muslims are better than the American citizens. What will happen to us then? Sharia law is just around the corner.

  4. Robert Wallace says:

    I am tired of arguing with this kind of insanity. I'm just registering my opinion that it is, in fact, insanity. If either of you (Gail and William) actually had any Muslim friends you would realize this.

    It's easy to demonize and dehumanize strangers. It gets harder to maintain fanaticism when you actually meet smart, friendly, intelligent people who are Muslims and – yes – *decent human beings*.

    From college professors to childhood friends I know plenty of Muslims and I will absolutely defend their right to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience without fear of "eradication".

    The principles of *my* faith, and those of my nation , require no less from me.

  5. BRING IT says:

    Sharia law?, over my dead Christian body. Seriously.

  6. Gail B says:

    If there were a neighborhood or section of town where there were many mosques with minarets, I would hesitate going there. In fact, I would avoid it if possible.

    As the music from an ice cream truck sends a message to children that frozen goodies are on the way, and as the boom from the cars with boom boxes tells addicts that drugs are on the way, a minaret seen in the distance tells people that danger lurks.

  7. William A. Rose says:

    Gail's right. Islam is, pure and simple, a religion of intolerance and hate. It is a Muslim's DUTY to either get you to convert to their religion or to kill you. People just don't get this. Islam should be eradicated. There is only one God – the God of the bible. There's plenty of imperical evidence to prove it too. This is not "just my opinion".

  8. Randy Wills says:

    It's curious to me that we can pass "hate speech" laws restricting citizen's right to speak out against Scripturally-based traditional values without also passing an outright ban on the practice of Islamism.

    This country will pay a dear price (actually, already is) for being unwilling to put rational evaluation of a political movement parading under the guise of a "religion" above the clearly destructive, feel-good, "diversity" myth propagated by the one-world liberals.

    Without malice towards any individual or true religion, I will state unequvocally, "Islamism is a cancer within the democratic body politic". However, I'm afraid that we have collectively lost the intellectual integrity to face reality squarely and state the obvious.

    I know that this sounds harsh coming from a self-professed Christian, but I base my perspective on the in- compatibility of Islamism with the very nature of America – not on bigotry. Islamism MUST be recognized for what it is within the context of democracy; subversive.

    Randy

  9. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Randy,

    Excise minaret. Insert cross.

    I'm not enough of a religious scholar to get into this debate. And I do believe that it is imperative we address the reality of radical Islam, but that we differentiate between those who murder in the name of Allah and those who worship him.

    Yes, we need to err on the side of security. But inherent in our own Judeo-Christian values is freedom. Banning a religion, as subversive as the radical elements of that religion may be, reeks of something else.

    Jeff

  10. Anonymous says:

    Our country was founded in part for the freedom of religion. We don't have an official religion because all faiths are welcome here, including Muslims.

    One thing history teaches is that faith has a way of surviving the most difficult persecutions. The more we try to suppress a religion the stronger it becomes, so let them be free to practice their faith. Honestly, I think they will find it quite hard to maintain such a strict and intolerant religion in this kind of country.

    Of course, they have to also be respectful of other faiths at the same time and the so-called "separation of church and state" also must apply to them as well.

  11. Randy Wills says:

    Hi, Jeff.

    Good point, and I certainly take that into consideration as I form my opinions on such matters, but there is a huge difference. I pretty much govern my life based on the Golden Rule, which comes directly from Scripture.

    The fundamental difference is that Christianity does not preach a form of government – we depend on the Constitution for that – nor does it preach the destruction of any government other than its own unless threatened by destruction itself.

    This is not true of Islam. There is no provision whatsoever in the theology of the Q'ran for co-existence with any other religion or form of government. I can't think of anything more inimical to the Constitution of the United States than that,hence my opinion that it should not be allowed to take root in the U.S. – unless we really aren't committed to a restoratiion of Constitutional values.

    We wouldn't do it for Communism(and that is a de facto religion) for obvious reasons, and we shouldn't do it for Islam. Muslims who really do desire to live in a free and democratic country (why else would they migrate here?) should separate themselves from a faith that is mutually exclusive to everything that America was built on.

    Randy

  12. Anonymous says:

    Kinda like innocent until proven guilty, in the OJ trial….
    Sounds good in theory but sometimes you just know when something ain't quite right. Same for Islam.

  13. Andrea says:

    Jeff …..I can't agree with you on this one. There's nothing wrong with a country protecting it's identity and heritage against a religion that's goal is to assimilate every other religion.
    Andrea

  14. Jan says:

    I, too, know Muslims in my area. They are decent people. I see the difference in the basis of our religious beliefs though. While there are extremists in every religion or ideology there is a clear difference in these two religions. My faith tells me to love my neighbor. Their faith tells them to hate their neighbor and to kill them if they do not believe as their faith dictates. That is not just an extremist viewpoint. That is what their "holy word" teaches. While I can co-exist with Muslims – they too are God's creation – I am cautious only because their base teaching is to hate me. I continue to love and let God do the rest.

  15. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    I get that, Andrea. I really do. But I just think the efforts could be better focused on the actual tenets of that religion, rather than its architectural idiosyncrasies.

    My mother-in-law is convinced that you can catch a cold from being exposed to cold air. The reality is that it is a germ/virus which causes the common cold (see that I'm not a doctor, either?) and, while that germ/virus may survive better in cooler environments, it can attack the human body even in warm ones. The best way to prevent the sniffles, therefore, is to wash hands and do everything possible to avoid germ exposure — not avoid the outside simply because it's cold out.

    I don't know if that makes sense, or if it's purely my newly-found sniffles which has brought on the analogy, but I think that kind of explains my take on it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I hope I am not running over previously covered ground, but there is a distinct difference between the house of worship – the mosque and minarets. I quote here from an article by Dr. Andrew Bostom on November 30th, 2009. The venerable Brill Encyclopedia of Islam (EOI) entry on minarets makes plain that minarets are a political statement of Islamic supremacism.

    It seems on the whole unrelated to its function of the adhān [q.v.] calling the faithful to prayer, which can be made quite adequately from the roof of the mosque or even from the house-top. During the lifetime of the Prophet, his Abyssinian slave Bilāl [q.v.], was responsible for making the call to prayer in this way. The practice continued for another generation, a fact which demonstrates that the minaret is not an essential part of Islamic ritual. To this day, certain Islamic communities, especially the most orthodox ones like the Wahhābīs in Arabia, avoid building minarets on the grounds that they are ostentatious and unnecessary. … It must be remembered, however, that throughout the mediaeval period, the role of the minaret oscillated between two polarities: as a sign of power and as an instrument for the adhān.”

    Perhaps this may help to see the distinction between the place of worship which no one has said cannot be used and the minaret which though not necessary is considered a symbol dating back to medieval times – the very size of the structure which will dominate above the dome of the mosque echoes these sentiments.

  17. DO A WALK AROUND says:

    Other 'creations' of God: Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc…. There is evil in the world that just can't be 'tolerated and prayed away'.

    Just prayer didn't bring down the walls of Jericho.

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