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.