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AK84
11-29-2009, 02:19 PM
Swiss voters today approved a ban (http://en.rian.ru/world/20091129/157031622.html) on the construction of new minerates.

What are the doper opinions on this.

Zsofia
11-29-2009, 02:36 PM
I just came in to see what on earth you were misspelling. It's minarets.

NinetyWt
11-29-2009, 02:37 PM
Me too. I thought it was minerals!

AK84
11-29-2009, 02:42 PM
Well then, I am sure that the learned moderators will make the needed changes.

Mr. Excellent
11-29-2009, 02:49 PM
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!

Mr. Excellent
11-29-2009, 02:51 PM
Less snarky answer: This is very, very ugly. For states to use their power to sanction - mandate, even! - discrimination against a religion ... well, that's a practice with a very long and nasty history. And I'd honestly thought the Western democracies were moving past it. More fool me, I guess.

AK84
11-29-2009, 02:55 PM
What I find interesting is that the opinion polls were off, by about 20%. It shows the value of secret ballots. AS well as the fact that people will not want to air what is seen as a prejudiced or bigoted position.

An Gadaí
11-29-2009, 02:55 PM
A friend of mine lives in Switzerland and from what he's told me it doesn't surprise me that such a ban came into place. It seems (from the outside) like perhaps the most xenophobic country in Western Europe.

AK84
11-29-2009, 02:59 PM
Could someone please explain how a minaret is dangerous and worthy of a ban?

twickster
11-29-2009, 03:10 PM
Fixed title and moved to Great Debates.

twickster, MPSIMS moderator

Cort
11-29-2009, 03:15 PM
I think it's a good idea.

wmfellows
11-29-2009, 03:22 PM
Could someone please explain how a minaret is dangerous and worthy of a ban?

No idea, remarkably stupid and bigoted move on the part of the Swiss.

jjimm
11-29-2009, 03:22 PM
They've banned minuets?

Mr. Kobayashi
11-29-2009, 03:26 PM
This is why the government shouldn't get involved in religion. Be thankful for the 1st Amendment, America.

MPB in Salt Lake
11-29-2009, 03:27 PM
A friend of mine lives in Switzerland and from what he's told me it doesn't surprise me that such a ban came into place. It seems (from the outside) like perhaps the most xenophobic country in Western Europe.

Due to historical, cultural and geographical factors, I agree that the Swiss are generally a pretty "closed" society, and some of the least accepting of forigeners in Western Europe.

(My grandfather was born and raised in Bern, and I have spent a good bit of time in Switzerland, and overall, I felt less welcome there than about any other country I have ever visited.)

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 03:28 PM
They've banned minuets?

Remake Footloose, but set it in an 18th Century Austrian-Swiss canton!

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 03:34 PM
I should condemn the Swiss for this, but we Americans have been banning mosques and Islamic academies at the county and municipal levels for years.

jjimm
11-29-2009, 03:41 PM
I, for one, agree wholeheartedly with the banning of towers that represent ancient, imported Middle-Eastern religions.

Here are some more to be getting on with (http://images.google.com/images?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB306GB306&q=church%20tower&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi).

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 04:27 PM
Out of curiosity, how does the law define an minaret? As jjimm mentions, Church steeples are presumably still allowed, is the law as blatent as "Muslim groups can't build any towers?" It'd be kinda cool if the ban caused some neat architectural innovation.

Not that I agree with the ban, but since it's passed, I wouldn't mind seeing the Muslims stick it to the man and try and find a way around it.

Odesio
11-29-2009, 04:33 PM
I should condemn the Swiss for this, but we Americans have been banning mosques and Islamic academies at the county and municipal levels for years.

Cite? I've never heard of a mosque being outright banned through legal means in the United States.

Gary Baldy
11-29-2009, 04:37 PM
I should condemn the Swiss for this, but we Americans have been banning mosques and Islamic academies at the county and municipal levels for years.

Could you cite an example? I haven't heard of this happening anywhere in the USA. All searches on Google point to this happening in Europe, none in the USA.

athelas
11-29-2009, 04:42 PM
You know who else tried expanding into every country but Switzerland?

Sunspace
11-29-2009, 04:45 PM
You know who else tried expanding into every country but Switzerland?Microsoft Disney!

magellan01
11-29-2009, 04:48 PM
I think there are two reasons for this. One, is purely aesthetic. Switzerland wants to preserve the look and feel that helps define it. Nothing wrong with that. The other thing is the greater numbers of Muslims and how they may change the culture beyond architecture. And I see nothing wrong with that either. The same way I'd see nothing wrong with a city in the middle east or asia wanting to preserve what culturally defines it.

I still don't get why one shouldn't expect to conform to the new society they've moved to. ::shrug::

Odesio
11-29-2009, 04:52 PM
The only culture that doesn't change is a dead culture.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 04:56 PM
The only culture that doesn't change is a dead culture.

Wow, man, that's soooo deep. You blew my mind. :rolleyes:

billfish678
11-29-2009, 05:00 PM
You know who else tried expanding into every country but Switzerland?

Hersey's ?

For good strategic reasons I might add.

ruadh
11-29-2009, 05:03 PM
I think Mr. Excellent nailed it. This is going to make Swiss Muslims feel even more marginalised than they probably already do, and far from encouraging them to "conform" as magellan01 suggests, it's going to alienate them even further from the majority culture. I've seen a few reports from Switzerland that say overt expressions of hostility against Muslims have increased since plans for the referendum were announced; that doesn't surprise me as a similar thing happened here in Ireland as a result of the citizenship referendum in 2004. Hopefully the Swiss or European courts will show more sense than the voters did.

Incidentally, magellan01:


I still don't get why one shouldn't expect to conform to the new society they've moved to. ::shrug::

You do realise that some of them haven't moved to any new society, don't you? Not all Muslims in Switzerland are immigrants.

Captain Amazing
11-29-2009, 05:07 PM
I think Mr. Excellent nailed it. This is going to make Swiss Muslims feel even more marginalised than they probably already do, and far from encouraging them to "conform" as magellan01 suggests, it's going to alienate them even further from the majority culture.

That's the idea, though. It's to say to Muslims, "We don't want you in Switzerland. Get out."

magellan01
11-29-2009, 05:07 PM
Incidentally, magellan01:

You do realise that some of them haven't moved to any new society, don't you? Not all Muslims in Switzerland are immigrants.

Yes, I'm well aware of the obvious, thank you. The point is that Switzerland has a culture that they have a right to preserve.

jjimm
11-29-2009, 05:08 PM
I still don't get why one shouldn't expect to conform to the new society they've moved to. ::shrug::My earlier point notwithstanding, ever lived overseas? I have. I've lived and/or travelled all over the world, and preserved my culture wherever I've been. And with vanishingly rare exceptions, I never saw anyone from any western culture conform to the locals' ways.

Sure, I borrowed bits and pieces from the cultures in which I lived, as do my current Muslim neighbors, but largely I carried on in the way that I am used to. And so did every other expatriate I knew.

In other words, I suggest you are imposing your self-described incomprehension only on people whose "other"ness is most obvious to you.

Would you have suggested that Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms in the 19th century should not have built synagogues on their arrival to the New World?

BrotherCadfael
11-29-2009, 05:09 PM
They've banned minuets?Too many notes, Wolfgang!

magellan01
11-29-2009, 05:09 PM
That's the idea, though. It's to say to Muslims, "We don't want you in Switzerland. Get out."

I don't think that's exactly right. I think it's more, "If you want to change Switzerland, we don't want you here. Get out." Again I see nothing wrong with that. No one is keeping them there at gunpoint.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 05:13 PM
My earlier point notwithstanding, ever lived overseas? I have. I've lived and/or travelled all over the world, and preserved my culture wherever I've been. And with vanishingly rare exceptions, I never saw anyone from any western culture conform to the locals' ways.

Sure, I borrowed bits and pieces from the cultures in which I lived, as do my current Muslim neighbors, but largely I carried on in the way that I am used to. And so did every other expatriate I knew.

In other words, I suggest you are imposing your self-described incomprehension only on people whose "other"ness is most obvious to you.

Would you have suggested that Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms in the 19th century should not have built synagogues on their arrival to the New World?

There are plenty of things one can do to continue to enjoy their culture in a foreign land, and good for all of them. But if the local populace feel that some of those things conflict with the culture you've moved to, I think you are bound to defer to the people's home you moved to.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 05:20 PM
Let's see. They are doing something that simultaneously caters to xenophobia, irritates Muslims, doesn't actually do anything effective against its targets ( so fails even from a ruthless standpoint ), and makes the people they dislike look like victims.

Oh, and makes the members of a religion they apparently don't like feel like victims of persecution; something that has historically proven so very effective against religion. Yup, real clever these Swiss. :rolleyes:

coffeecat
11-29-2009, 05:23 PM
Demanding that everyone act alike goes against the western liberal tradition. And I hardly think the faith that produced the Taj Mahal is guaranteed to make a neighborhood eyesore.

athelas
11-29-2009, 05:27 PM
Let's see. They are doing something that simultaneously caters to xenophobia, irritates Muslims, doesn't actually do anything effective against its targets ( so fails even from a ruthless standpoint ), and makes the people they dislike look like victims.

Oh, and makes the members of a religion they apparently don't like feel like victims of persecution; something that has historically proven so very effective against religion. Yup, real clever these Swiss. :rolleyes:Heh, and here's Der Trihs, who would be at the head of the anti-sky-fairy brigade if this was an anti-Christian law in the US.

You seem to be claiming that extremism and terrorism will increase in Switzerland because of this move. I disagree. If you're a Muslim pondering a move to Europe, why not move to France or Sweden (which have large and domestically troublesome Muslim populations already) rather than a country that demonstrates mild hostility to your faith? This may look bad in the short term but in the long demographic timescale I think this will end up redirecting Muslim immigration to other European countries. (Which is kind of a cheap trick from the point of view of the other countries, but an effective one.)

If you disagree though feel free to go on the record predicting an increase in Muslim extremism in Switzerland relative to other countries. State a timescale and indicators, please.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 05:42 PM
Heh, and here's Der Trihs, who would be at the head of the anti-sky-fairy brigade if this was an anti-Christian law in the US.:rolleyes: Don't be ridiculous. I despise all religions, including Islam. But I've also never supported attempting to ban or persecute them, much less a particular one in favor of others.

You seem to be claiming that extremism and terrorism will increase in Switzerland because of this move. I disagree. If you're a Muslim pondering a move to Europe, why not move to France or Sweden (which have large and domestically troublesome Muslim populations already) rather than a country that demonstrates mild hostility to your faith? Because it helps promote the faith by engaging in ineffective persecution; the sort of thing a religion thrives under. And I didn't say a thing about "extremism and terrorism"; you are conflating those with Islam in general. You don't need to be an extremist Muslim to find an obvious slap in the face like this obnoxious. How would Christians feel if church steeples were outlawed? Would it only be Christian extremists and terrorists who were offended?

If you disagree though feel free to go on the record predicting an increase in Muslim extremism in Switzerland relative to other countries. State a timescale and indicators, please.Ah, and I'm supposed to be a prophet now? And how do you know that any increased hostility will be confined to Switzerland, and not generalized to all of Europe or Christianity or the West or whatever else is perceived as the cause?

ruadh
11-29-2009, 05:46 PM
Yes, I'm well aware of the obvious, thank you.

Well, you continue to portray this as an issue of people bringing their culture to a foreign land. I'm going to take it from that that you think Swiss-born Muslims are entitled to build minarets. If you don't, then you'll have to come up with a better argument than that immigrants should adapt to their new country.

The point is that Switzerland has a culture that they have a right to preserve

I presume you mean the Swiss people, since countries don't have rights. But I can't find "the right to preserve your country's culture from any changes that you don't happen to like" in any human rights instrument. Perhaps you could point it out to me.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 05:51 PM
Could you cite an example? I haven't heard of this happening anywhere in the USA. All searches on Google point to this happening in Europe, none in the USA.

These are all in the Washington, DC area. An Islamic school in Fairfax VA has been trying to expand, and met resistance from local citizen groups, as per these two websites:

http://www.redcounty.com/islamic-saudi-academy-county-and-school-hate?taxonomy=3

http://www.akdart.com/islam4.html

Mosques in Montgomery and Frederick county MD similarly get blocked; here's one from Frederick:

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display_Comments.htm?section=dailyUpdate&storyID=70603

The feds seized a mosque in Rockville:

http://rockvillecentral.com/2009/11/mosque-seized-by-justice-department.html/

It can and does happen here.

ralph124c
11-29-2009, 05:56 PM
I don't get it..the Swiss are saying to immigrants:" we like our country the way it is"-what is wrong with this? Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.
The muslims seem to be hypocritical-they want freedom for their religious beliefs, but they don't want the same freedom extended to others. Ad to that, their insane reactions when they think their religion has been insulted (ask the Danes).

alphaboi867
11-29-2009, 05:59 PM
For some reason I thought the Swiss were voting on a ban on the constuction on mosques. So while new mosques will still be allowed they have to look exactly like the surrounding buildings, is that right? Either way this is not a good sign. Isn't there a similiar problem in Greece where the Greek Orthodox Church has bloked the contruction of mosques in Athens? Hasn't Switzerland always been more conservative than it's neighbors in Western Europe? We are talking about a country that didn't give women the vote until 1971 and even then one canton held out until 1990.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 06:03 PM
I don't get it..the Swiss are saying to immigrants:" we like our country the way it is"-what is wrong with this? Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.

http://www.greatistanbul.com/church.htm

wmfellows
11-29-2009, 06:05 PM
I don't get it..the Swiss are saying to immigrants:" we like our country the way it is"-what is wrong with this? Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.

Okay, as I have visited the operating cathedral in Morocco, Rabat, as well as new Churches in Lebanon and Jordan, shall I ask you now? Also the one in Dakar, Senegal.

The muslims seem to be hypocritical-they want freedom for their religious beliefs, but they don't want the same freedom extended to others. Ad to that, their insane reactions when they think their religion has been insulted (ask the Danes).

I'd say that on both sides there are a bunch of half-informed (if not wholly ignorant) stereotypes and false facts floating about that poison the discussion from the start.

ruadh
11-29-2009, 06:05 PM
Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.

:rolleyes: There are Christian churches in most Muslim countries. They're not all Saudi Arabia.

Xotan
11-29-2009, 06:08 PM
It is not simply a matter of minarets. There are a number of issues here.

There is the question of architecture and the appropriateness of having minarets or not. Surely this is a planning and development matter?

There is also the question of outsiders coming into another country and maintaining a foreign culture, quite at odds with the native culture, rather than assimilating. Should this be tolerated? Should it be banned? Should all foreigners be required to assimilate?

Islam is a religion that is into proselytising. Like Christianity. Switzerland is basically protestant, except for a few cantons in the south, AFAIK. There is a strong religious sentiment, generally. [A friend asked for directions to a church that happened to be Catholic and received the reply: Zurich ist protestant, Gott sei Dank!] Probably much more so than in the rest of Europe. So, is Switzerland allowed to preserve its own religion? Or must it give free rein to a foreign one that may, or may not, harbour elements hostile to western culture in general?

Should a country ban the importation of the religious books and symbols of another religion than its own? Or should it allow them freely to enter?

What does Saudi Arabia do? Should that be taken as an example?

I would maintain that when foreigners come to live in another country is is not unreasonable to require them to assimilate and take on the customs and practices of their new country. But where that leads to, in terms of religion, I cannot say. I would have no problem if it remained a private and personal matter. Where it has been found wanting in the past, as in Britain, then it should be kept under surveillance. Where is it law-abiding and posing no political or social threat, then it should be left alone. This is for all religions, not just Islam. In fact, I would be curious as to how some American sects would fare in Switzerland.

Just somethings to ponder.

I will say this, though, that having come to live in France, I have made every effort to assimilate. I learnt the language, I have joined organisations, I participate in French life as fully as possible, and I expect that no allowances to be made for me in terms of any un-French ways I may have. When corrected about something, I take it as part of a learning curve. I could not conceive of behaving differently.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 06:16 PM
There is also the question of outsiders coming into another country and maintaining a foreign culture, quite at odds with the native culture, rather than assimilating. Should this be tolerated? Should it be banned? Should all foreigners be required to assimilate?
Should we roll tanks into Chinatown? :rolleyes:

To answer your question, no they shouldn't. You also make the assumption that they weren't assimilating, or that if they weren't, it was their fault and not the fault of the society in question refusing to let them.

Rune
11-29-2009, 06:19 PM
The referendum is non-binding. The government has already come out and said the ban in unconstitutional and so will have no effect. And that it in any case is entirely in the hands of the regions to decide for themselves. And that further it is already illegal to use towers to call to prayer – on account of the noise.

I don’t hold Switzerland to any higher standard than any other nation and all in all my outrage about this is about on par with my outrage that new Christian churches, Hindu and Jewish temples and not least Asatru sacred grooves are illegal or severely restricted in most of the Muslim world. It concerns me no more or less that there is no church in Mecca than there is no Minaret in Bern. Except the ban against minarets in Bern is non-existing, so that leaves me..

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 06:24 PM
The referendum is non-binding. The government has already come out and said the ban in unconstitutional and so will have no effect. And that it in any case is entirely in the hands of the regions to decide for themselves. And that further it is already illegal to use towers to call to prayer – on account of the noise.
Do you have any cite for the referendum being non-binding? According to the New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/world/europe/30swiss.html?_r=1&hp) on this, "the ban on minaret construction automatically becomes part of the Constitution" and "The Swiss cabinet, or Federal Council, issued a statement that it 'respects this decision. Consequently, the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted.'"

Attack from the 3rd dimension
11-29-2009, 06:30 PM
I still don't get why one shouldn't expect to conform to the new society they've moved to. ::shrug::



This is why I no longer celebrate American Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July.

Rune
11-29-2009, 06:30 PM
Do you have any cite for the referendum being non-binding? According to the New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/world/europe/30swiss.html?_r=1&hp) on this, "the ban on minaret construction automatically becomes part of the Constitution" and "The Swiss cabinet, or Federal Council, issued a statement that it 'respects this decision. Consequently, the construction of new minarets in Switzerland is no longer permitted.'"Not really. National radio broadcast. Here’s some from a newspaper:

Both the Government and Parliament have previously rejected the proposal on the grounds that it conflicts with the Constitution
Switzerland: No thanks to minarets (Danish) (http://translate.google.dk/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=da&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fjp.dk%2Fudland%2Feuropa%2Farticle1902349.ece&sl=da&tl=en)

Canadjun
11-29-2009, 06:32 PM
The referendum is non-binding. The government has already come out and said the ban in unconstitutional and so will have no effect.

From CBC News (http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/11/29/swiss-minarets.html):
Some 2.67 million people voted 57.5 to 42.5 per cent in favour of the initiative. Voters in only four of the 26 cantons, or states, opposed the proposal, paving the way for a constitutional amendment.

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 06:33 PM
I don’t hold Switzerland to any higher standard than any other nation and all in all my outrage about this is about on par with my outrage that new Christian churches, Hindu and Jewish temples and not least Asatru sacred grooves are illegal or severely restricted in most of the Muslim world. .

Cite? They're certainly restricted in Saudi Arabia (though I believe the gov't there has started allowing Catholic Churches to serve the fillipino population), but that includes something like 2% of the worlds muslims. Certainly in the places where most Muslim immigrants to Switzarland are actually from (Bosnia and Turkey) this isn't true.

Plus, are the Swiss really comfortable with their laws being defended by the argument that "hey, its not as bad as a repressive theocratic monarchy like Saudi Arabia".

elmwood
11-29-2009, 06:38 PM
I should condemn the Swiss for this, but we Americans have been banning mosques and Islamic academies at the county and municipal levels for years.

The standard "AmeriKKKa is worse" response in response to bigotry in another country. Sigh.

No community in the United States bans mosques and Islamic academies. None. A few places tried to ban calls to prayer, but such bans were overturned by the courts. Such a ban would both be unconstitutional, and violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

In zoning codes that use archaic language that permits "churches", but don't mention other types of places of worship, "church" is interpreted to mean any place of worship for any religion. Contemporary zoning codes use "place of worship or assembly", not "church".

Rune
11-29-2009, 06:39 PM
Plus, are the Swiss really comfortable with their laws being defended by the argument that "hey, its not as bad as a repressive theocratic monarchy like Saudi Arabia".I don’t know and don’t care. I commented on what concerned me.

emacknight
11-29-2009, 06:48 PM
Two points to start with: 1) haven't been to Switzerland and 2) don't understand at all what they are trying to accomplish.

But consider an area that is trying to preserve an "image." If you look at the google images of Switzerland (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=qQY&q=switzerland%20towns&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi) you get these very picturesque and quaint little villages. Watching the Tour de France I'm always astonished by the beauty of the towns they pass through. On the surface, it doesn't seem unreasonable to want to preserve that. You'll also notice that the towns all have very consistent architecture and a very large church. That is the "image" of a European town.

It also doesn't seem unreasonable that a place, with an image they want to preserve, would go about trying to control that image. Here are two similar stories when you search for "ban McDonald's sign" I also know of places (like the city I grew up in) that bans buildings over a certain height, or restricts certain architecture.

Itallian town bans ethnic food (http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/266321)

City of Dallas has a ban on window signs in businesses. (http://www.thesignsyndicate.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3527)

I have been to India, and the minarets are everywhere you look. Not a bad thing at all, in fact I find them really cool looking. But I also associate that image with India, Turkey, Pakistan and the MENA. As far as tourism goes, they are not associated at all with Switzerland or Western Europe.

I don't see the issue as having anything to do with religious intolerance since they aren't banning mosques or Islam, they are banning the very large and very specific towers.

Gary Baldy
11-29-2009, 06:52 PM
These are all in the Washington, DC area. An Islamic school in Fairfax VA has been trying to expand, and met resistance from local citizen groups, as per these two websites:

http://www.redcounty.com/islamic-saudi-academy-county-and-school-hate?taxonomy=3

http://www.akdart.com/islam4.html

Mosques in Montgomery and Frederick county MD similarly get blocked; here's one from Frederick:

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display_Comments.htm?section=dailyUpdate&storyID=70603

The feds seized a mosque in Rockville:

http://rockvillecentral.com/2009/11/mosque-seized-by-justice-department.html/

It can and does happen here.

Did you even read the sites you cited?

Frederick County was about rezoning an agricultural land. If it had been a Walmart, I'm sure the same thing would have happened.

Rockville was about the federal government seize the property because Iran was using the mosque as a front to illegally funnel money back to Iran.

elmwood
11-29-2009, 06:55 PM
These are all in the Washington, DC area. An Islamic school in Fairfax VA has been trying to expand, and met resistance from local citizen groups, as per these two websites:

http://www.redcounty.com/islamic-saudi-academy-county-and-school-hate?taxonomy=3

http://www.akdart.com/islam4.html

Mosques in Montgomery and Frederick county MD similarly get blocked; here's one from Frederick:

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display_Comments.htm?section=dailyUpdate&storyID=70603

The feds seized a mosque in Rockville:

http://rockvillecentral.com/2009/11/mosque-seized-by-justice-department.html/

It can and does happen here.

The Islamic school was trying to expand; it was already established. Such zoning conflicts are common with the expansion of Christian, Jewish and secular private schools.

Mosques got blocked? Same thing happens with churches and synagogues if there is a conflict with zoning regulations, and the zoning is RLUIPA-compliant.

If a mosque is blocked in a certain location under a RLUIPA-compliant zoning code, so would any equivalent church, synagogue, temple, gurdwara, or any other place of worship.

Zoning law texts are filled with cases of attempts at blocking synagogues in various communities. Are those communities anti-Semitic? No; they're usually predominantly Jewish suburbs. The population is usually Reform and Conservative, and they attempt to block Orthodox shuls because Orthodox families tend to have very large families (and thus be more of a drain on municipal services than smaller hosueholds), and because communities with Orthodox populations often need to make special public safety accommodations for Orthodox communities (very frequent police patrols on Shabbat, since many won't even call 911 even a life-threatening emergency, or lock their doors). Such attempts at banning Orthodox shuls are usually defeated in the courts.

ruadh
11-29-2009, 06:55 PM
I don't see the issue as having anything to do with religious intolerance since they aren't banning mosques or Islam, they are banning the very large and very specific towers.

Eh, no dice. The referendum was proposed by one of the most intolerant parties in Switzerland. From this article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091127/ap_on_re_eu/eu_switzerland_minaret_ban):

"The nationalist Swiss People's Party has led several campaigns against foreigners, including a proposal to kick out entire families of foreigners if one of their children breaks a law and a bid to subject citizenship applications to a popular vote.

The party's controversial posters have shown three white sheep kicking out a black sheep and a swarm of brown hands grabbing Swiss passports from a box...

They say they are acting to fight the spread of political Islam, arguing the minaret represents a bid for power and is not just a religious symbol...

People's Party lawmaker Walter Wobmann said minarets are part of Muslims' strategy to make Switzerland Islamic...."

And clearly some of the supporters were thinking along the same lines:

"'The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent,' said Madeleine Trincat, a retiree from Geneva. 'After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they'll ask us to wear veils and so on.'"

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 06:56 PM
I don’t know and don’t care. I commented on what concerned me.

So do you have a cite for most of the Muslim world severly restricting the building of new churches?

FWIW, the 10 countries with the most Muslims (having somewhere between 60-75% of the total) are Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco). Of those India, Turkey and Bangladesh have secular gov'ts and guarentees to religious freedoms.

Here's and organization raising money to build churches in Egypt (http://www.theoutreachfoundation.org/Missionaries%20and%20Projects/Middle%20East/Egypt/newchurchdevelopmentinegypt.html). Here's a pdf about the dedication of a new church in Pakistan (http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:igVBEy64F3gJ:www.voiceforjesus.co.uk/index2.php%3Foption%3Dcom_content%26do_pdf%3D1%26id%3D43+%22new+church%22+in+pakistan&hl=en&gl=us&sig=AHIEtbTv_aZcV_qYbXth_5ZMwmUkGnQlGg).

I suspect your wrong.

emacknight
11-29-2009, 06:58 PM
Eh, no dice. The referendum was proposed by one of the most intolerant parties in Switzerland. From this article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091127/ap_on_re_eu/eu_switzerland_minaret_ban):

"The nationalist Swiss People's Party has led several campaigns against foreigners, including a proposal to kick out entire families of foreigners if one of their children breaks a law and a bid to subject citizenship applications to a popular vote.

The party's controversial posters have shown three white sheep kicking out a black sheep and a swarm of brown hands grabbing Swiss passports from a box...

They say they are acting to fight the spread of political Islam, arguing the minaret represents a bid for power and is not just a religious symbol...

People's Party lawmaker Walter Wobmann said minarets are part of Muslims' strategy to make Switzerland Islamic...."

And clearly some of the supporters were thinking along the same lines:

"'The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent,' said Madeleine Trincat, a retiree from Geneva. 'After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they'll ask us to wear veils and so on.'"

Wow, that sucks, so much for benefit of the doubt. At this point their bed is made, hope they have a restful night...

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 07:04 PM
I don't see the issue as having anything to do with religious intolerance since they aren't banning mosques or Islam, they are banning the very large and very specific towers.

On a national scale? I'm skeptical Swiss uses national referenda to regulate zoning ordanances to restrict buildings that mucked up the view.

Plus, there are only four Minaret's in the whole country. This one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Moschee_Wangen_bei_Olten.jpg) acually looks like they tried to make it look vaguley Swiss, and besides, is hardly taller then the attached building.

This one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mahmud_Moschee1.jpg) looks more Islamic, but it still appears to be only a few stories tall. I can't find pics of the other two, but I'm pretty skeptical that Zurich was on its way to looking like Istanbul.

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 07:05 PM
The problem is not so much the minarets, but rather what they represent. After the minarets, the muezzins will come, then they'll ask us to wear veils and so on.
But on the other hand, now that Switzerland has passed this law, it can only be a few short steps away from burning heretics, just like they did with Servetus.

Hey, she has her slippery slope; I have mine.

elmwood
11-29-2009, 07:10 PM
I don't see the issue as having anything to do with religious intolerance since they aren't banning mosques or Islam, they are banning the very large and very specific towers.

The entire built environment of Switzerland isn't like the idealized image of timber-framed buildings and gothic churches, though. Go to the 'burbs of a Swiss city, and you'll find a scene that isn't that much different than the worst planned 'burbs in the US and Canada; hypermarkets and home improvement stores with plain standardized architecture set behind large parking lots, chain gas stations with brightly colored canopies (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gas_station_of_Tamoil_in_Geneva,_Switzerland.jpg), and even freestanding McDonalds with drive-through windows, high-rise signs and Playlands (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckroes/3308974569/).

If a generic McDonalds with a 60' tall sign can pass muster in the Swiss 'burbs, why not a minaret?

Švejk
11-29-2009, 07:12 PM
On the face of it this is not a separation of church and state issue, or an issue of the state interfering with religion on behalf of an intolerant majority - it's only about making a collective decision about what buildings should and should not be built, given the quaint and picturesque buildings that are already there. It is not about the function of the building; as long as you build a swiss-looking building and run a mosque in it, you should be fine ... for now. Because the up-shot of what looks like something that could be decided on by a zoning committee is to create limits to practicing the Islam in Western-Europe.

What peeves me most about this is that this is completely symbolical politics; it is not (yet) denying Muslims something they really want, as is evinced by the fact that currently in all of Switzerland, there's only four minarets to begin with. I am fairly certain that most Muslims in Western-Europe will accept that they don't live in Islamic countries and that this has certain repercussions - which they are also willing to accept - for the centrality of their faith in the public space, including the building of minarets and (more importantly, IMHO) the summoning of believers to come pray from those minarets. By denying this group of people something they don't really want anyway in most of the cases, the Swiss have emphasised 1) that they don't trust them and 2) that they see them as ultimately different and not part of Swiss society, not now and not ever.

Odesio
11-29-2009, 07:12 PM
Wow, man, that's soooo deep. You blew my mind. :rolleyes:

I'm sure it wasn't a large explosion.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 07:15 PM
The standard "AmeriKKKa is worse" response in response to bigotry in another country. Sigh.

I have yet to hear a decent counter-argument to this, but you can educate me: Should a pot call the kettle black? If I say it shouldn't, what logical fallacy am I employing? BTW, I'm comparing America to Switzerland, a fellow Western democracy, not some theocratic backwater. It's apples to apples.

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 07:16 PM
On the face of it this is not a separation of church and state issue, or an issue of the state interfering with religion on behalf of an intolerant majority - it's only about making a collective decision about what buildings should and should not be built, given the quaint and picturesque buildings that are already there.
Except that, as elmwood just demonstrated in the post right before yours, Switzerland is not a theme park.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 07:17 PM
The point is that Switzerland has a culture that they have a right to preserve.

And Germany has a culture that the Nazis were eager to preserve.

Can't you see how state-sanctioned bigotry against a particular religion is dangerous and, yes, un-Swiss (insofar as Switzerland, though insular, has prided itself for centuries on its tolerance and liberality).

The core of a democratic society includes separation of church and state and equal rights for all, including minorities (religious or otherwise). Preserving of cultures is something that can ideally been done in civil society. And religious culture in particular is no business of the state (except in very narrow cases where the rights of individuals are at stake).

This isn't a problem unique to Switzerland, of course. It's a problem throughout large swathes of Europe.

But the Swiss have really betrayed their own principles--as very large numbers of them seem fully to realize.

Švejk
11-29-2009, 07:22 PM
I'm not saying it is - I'm saying that on the face of it, this is an issue (or: this has been framed as an issue) of making new buildings fit in with the character (whatever that is; some Swiss will say that it's quaint even if you and I may disagree) of the buildings that are present. Whether the character of the buildings present is hideous and abominable to you is besides the point here; it is a valid concern in many places at least to try not to build things that vehemently detonate with what's already there. But more importantly, the point I made in my earlier post is that this line of reasoning is being abused to push a policy of intolerance, coated in a layer of 'we need to preserve the traditional character of our architecture'.

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 07:24 PM
I have yet to hear a decent counter-argument to this, but you can educate me: Should a pot call the kettle black? If I say it shouldn't, what logical fallacy am I employing? BTW, I'm comparing America to Switzerland, a fellow Western democracy, not some theocratic backwater. It's apples to apples.
The specific logical fallacy is known as tu quoque (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/tuquoque.html).
No community enacts laws forbidding a mosque or Islamic academy, but in my old stomping grounds of the DC suburbs (City of Fairfax, Montgomery and Frederick Counties), several citizen's groups routinely opposed, delayed and stymied the expansion and construction of such institutions at town meetings and zoning hearings. I don't distinguish between these and the Swiss law voted in, but you may if you wish. Both reflect the values of the communities involved in defiance of their nations' existing constitutions.
Opposition to the expansion of mosques or Islamic schools isn't necessarily illegitimate (or at any rate, isn't any more illegitimate than any other application of zoning laws, if one wants to get all capital-L Libertarian about it). American communities (presumably with Christian majorities) sometimes oppose the expansion of churches on understandable grounds of noise, traffic, and so on. To the extent that some American communities try to use zoning laws to stymie mosques (where they wouldn't do so to a church with a comparable footprint), this is wrong, and should be opposed.

However, the U.S. hasn't passed what (appears to be) a constitutional amendment banning minarets in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, or even a national act of Congress doing such.

If something is wrong, rather than saying "Oh, well, but everyone does it", one should rather oppose the wrong wherever it occurs.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 07:25 PM
The Islamic school was trying to expand; it was already established. Such zoning conflicts are common with the expansion of Christian, Jewish and secular private schools.

Mosques got blocked? Same thing happens with churches and synagogues if there is a conflict with zoning regulations, and the zoning is RLUIPA-compliant.

If a mosque is blocked in a certain location under a RLUIPA-compliant zoning code, so would any equivalent church, synagogue, temple, gurdwara, or any other place of worship.



Did you read the websites of the groups blocking the school in Fairfax? Zoning codes and preservation of architectural integrity were the least of their stated concerns. Both websites descended into hatemongering screeds pretty quickly.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 07:28 PM
I'm not saying it is - I'm saying that on the face of it, this is an issue (or: this has been framed as an issue) of making new buildings fit in with the character (whatever that is; some Swiss will say that it's quaint even if you and I may disagree) of the buildings that are present.
Um, no. As pointed out upthread it was proposed by "the nationalist Swiss People's Party", an organization that apparently is racist and xenophobic in general. So, "on the face of it" this is all about xenophobia, not buildings.

Švejk
11-29-2009, 07:33 PM
Just because I offer some more analysis beyond mere outrage does not make me stupid, or blind to what is going on: It is about xenophobia - I've pointed that out in both my posts. What I also pointed out is that it is not strictly a matter of church and state separation, or interference in religious practice, because it is about buildings at the same time. Clearly the right has managed to frame this issue in a way that makes it ostensibly NOT about interference with religion, which makes it all the more sneaky, I would argue.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 07:33 PM
I'm not saying it is - I'm saying that on the face of it, this is an issue (or: this has been framed as an issue) of making new buildings fit in with the character (whatever that is; some Swiss will say that it's quaint even if you and I may disagree) of the buildings that are present. Whether the character of the buildings present is hideous and abominable to you is besides the point here; it is a valid concern in many places at least to try not to build things that vehemently detonate with what's already there. But more importantly, the point I made in my earlier post is that this line of reasoning is being abused to push a policy of intolerance, coated in a layer of 'we need to preserve the traditional character of our architecture'.

Where is your evidence that this is a primarily architectural issue? According to the Times article (already posted above): "Of 150 mosques or prayer rooms in Switzerland, only 4 have minarets, and only 2 more minarets are planned. None conduct the call to prayer. There are about 400,000 Muslims in a population of some 7.5 million people." Hardly seems that there is a major architectural threat that's been stopped in its tracks.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 07:39 PM
The specific logical fallacy is known as tu quoque (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/tuquoque.html).



The link gives the example of a quote by Osama bin Ladin, which is a heartbeat away from crossing Godwin's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum). My preferred example, which supports the legitimacy of such arguments, is that the draft dodgers, pot smokers and adulterers in congress lacked the standing to call Bill Clinton a draft-dodging, pot smoking adulterer but did so anyway.

Švejk
11-29-2009, 07:40 PM
Where is your evidence that this is a primarily architectural issue? According to the Times article (already posted above): "Of 150 mosques or prayer rooms in Switzerland, only 4 have minarets, and only 2 more minarets are planned. None conduct the call to prayer. There are about 400,000 Muslims in a population of some 7.5 million people." Hardly seems that there is a major architectural threat that's been stopped in its tracks.

What peeves me most about this is that this is completely symbolical politics; it is not (yet) denying Muslims something they really want, as is evinced by the fact that currently in all of Switzerland, there's only four minarets to begin with.

Who said that? Oh wait, it was ME! Well, it was 10 posts up so you can hardly be expected to remember it I guess. Anyway, what I've been trying to say that the right in Switzerland has managed to frame their xenophobia in architectural/public space concerns (concerns that were clearly not even an issue to begin with) so that technically, this is not an issue of church/state separation, but really something that can be sold as something far more benign (although I'll agree that it is, before I get painted over with the Nazi-brush that you wielded so eagerly in post #69). "Of course we're not infringing on Muslim's rights, we're just protecting traditional Swiss values" - and thus commences the slippery slope.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 08:01 PM
Who said that? Oh wait, it was ME! Well, it was 10 posts up so you can hardly be expected to remember it I guess. Anyway, what I've been trying to say that the right in Switzerland has managed to frame their xenophobia in architectural/public space concerns (concerns that were clearly not even an issue to begin with) so that technically, this is not an issue of church/state separation, but really something that can be sold as something far more benign (although I'll agree that it is, before I get painted over with the Nazi-brush that you wielded so eagerly in post #69). "Of course we're not infringing on Muslim's rights, we're just protecting traditional Swiss values" - and thus commences the slippery slope.

I'm sorry Švejk if I missed your earlier post--sometimes when you are writing a post you miss something while composing.

And I certainly wasn't planning to tar you as a Nazi (nor do I think painted magellan01 as a Nazi even though he was the person I addressed on that topic). But do I have your permission to describe the Swiss People's Party in that light? :)

Okay--so to quote from the post of yours which I missed: On the face of it this is not a separation of church and state issue, or an issue of the state interfering with religion on behalf of an intolerant majority - it's only about making a collective decision about what buildings should and should not be built, given the quaint and picturesque buildings that are already there."

I disagree that it isn't a matter of church/state separation even "on the face of it." Legally it clearly is a church/state issue: what else can it be if the constitution is amended to forbid certain kinds of religious building? The Swiss electorate has not voted for a ban on all narrow buildings over ten feet high; they have voted for a ban on a particular Islamic kind of building that (as you also realize) was in no great danger of overtaking the Swiss landscape in any case.

If I understand you correctly you are trying to say that what is being "sold" as an architectural issue is actually more ominous. To which I reply, yes, it's more ominous, in part because it seeks to involve the state in a ban against a particular religion--by banning a type of building associated with that religion and that religion alone.

Moreover, if the political poster shown and described in the Times article is any indication, the campaign has played on fears of religious fundamentalism and even terrorism (missile shaped minarets?) So I'm not sure that your architectural soft sell theory is correct. Did I miss some earlier post of yours in which you offered some support for it? (You may well be right--the only I thing I know for sure about this issue comes from the Times article and what I've read here in this thread.)

Monty
11-29-2009, 08:05 PM
My opinion is that it's a disgusting display of bigotry. If minarets and the call to prayer (the latter already banned in Switzerland, IIRC) are outlawed, then church steeples, crosses on churches, and similar other constructions should be banned, as well as the ringing of church bells.

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 08:08 PM
The link gives the example of a quote by Osama bin Ladin, which is a heartbeat away from crossing Godwin's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum). My preferred example, which supports the legitimacy of such arguments, is that the draft dodgers, pot smokers and adulterers in congress lacked the standing to call Bill Clinton a draft-dodging, pot smoking adulterer but did so anyway.
Your objection to the tu quoque article strikes me as yet another ad homimen in itself, but whatever. (If Hitler used a logical fallacy that doesn't mean that it wasn't a logical fallacy, just because it would be impolite to point out that Hitler was the guy using it.)

If someone were supporting using zoning laws to block construction of a minaret in Fairfax (on basically the grounds that "We've got to keep them Muslims out of here"), but then turned around and said "Oh, that's awful what those Swiss have done! What an unjust infringement upon the great principle of religious liberty!" then that person would (obviously) be a raging hypocrite. Note that their arguments against the Swiss referendum wouldn't necessarily be wrong; it's just that the person making them is being blatantly hypocritical by not applying those same arguments to their own actions.

I have never supported passing laws against building mosques (or mosques with minarets specifically), or using existing, otherwise neutral laws to block construction of mosques (or Islamic academies; or churches, churches with steeples, synagogues, ashrams, shrines, or temples of any sort). Therefore I am free to criticize people who do so, whether they're in Virginia or Switzerland. If you can show that someone in this thread supported blocking mosques in their own home town, but are now turning around and criticizing the Swiss for doing the same thing, then go ahead and point out that person's hypocrisy.

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 08:20 PM
I have never supported passing laws against building mosques (or mosques with minarets specifically), or using existing, otherwise neutral laws to block construction of mosques (or Islamic academies; or churches, churches with steeples, synagogues, ashrams, shrines, or temples of any sort). Therefore I am free to criticize people who do so, whether they're in Virginia or Switzerland. If you can show that someone in this thread supported blocking mosques in their own home town, but are now turning around and criticizing the Swiss for doing the same thing, then go ahead and point out that person's hypocrisy.

That's a little beyond my scope, MEBuckner. My belief is that religious bigotry is wrong, that using constitutional amendments and zoning permit hearings to further one's religious bigotry is wrong, and that the former happens in Switzerland while the latter occurs here in the USA. It's outside my purview to examine the souls of this message board's participants.

Monty
11-29-2009, 08:21 PM
Did you read the websites of the groups blocking the school in Fairfax? Zoning codes and preservation of architectural integrity were the least of their stated concerns. Both websites descended into hatemongering screeds pretty quickly.

Hate groups don't ban stuff. Governments do. The particular issue under discussion is about a governmental act (referendum) and other government acts (court decisions).

Švejk
11-29-2009, 08:30 PM
I'm sorry Švejk if I missed your earlier post--sometimes when you are writing a post you miss something while composing. I know - I shouldn't have gotten all snarky about it, sorry for that.

And I certainly wasn't planning to tar you as a Nazi (nor do I think painted magellan01 as a Nazi even though he was the person I addressed on that topic). But do I have your permission to describe the Swiss People's Party in that light? :)

Well, Dorothea (or Ms. Book, if you prefer), I don't think you need my permission for anything including calling the Swiss People's Party Nazis. But since you asked: I wouldn't. It distorts the debate, invokes the holocaust inappropriately (to the detriment of both the victims of the holocaust and, presumably less importantly, the people the slur is directed at) and it lends credence to the claims of right-wingers that they are being 'demonized' while they're really only voicing what everyone is thinking, but what the liberal/social democratic elites don't want you to know.


I disagree that it [i]isn't a matter of church/state separation even "on the face of it." Legally it clearly is a church/state issue: what else can it be if the constitution is amended to forbid certain kinds of religious building? The Swiss electorate has not voted for a ban on all narrow buildings over ten feet high; they have voted for a ban on a particular Islamic kind of building that (as you also realize) was in no great danger of overtaking the Swiss landscape in any case.

If I understand you correctly you are trying to say that what is being "sold" as an architectural issue is actually more ominous. To which I reply, yes, it's more ominous, in part because it seeks to involve the state in a ban against a particular religion--by banning a type of building associated with that religion and that religion alone.

Moreover, if the political poster shown and described in the Times article is any indication, the campaign has played on fears of religious fundamentalism and even terrorism (missile shaped minarets?) So I'm not sure that your architectural soft sell theory is correct. Did I miss some earlier post of yours in which you offered some support for it? (You may well be right--the only I thing I know for sure about this issue comes from the Times article and what I've read here in this thread.)

well, to be honest, looking into this some more I'm baffled by the overtness of the anti-Islamism of this referendum, the question being indeed simply whether minarets should be outlawed. Still, we can talk back and forth about separation of church and states but I believe that one may well argue that this distinction involves whether the state should interfere in the content of religious belief, but not so much in where worship takes place. I believe that it was the Swiss People's Party's strategy to tackle particularly this issue first because they could most easily make the argument that it's not a separation of church and state issue. On the (German) wikipedia-site about this controversy, I read that they make an argument that a minaret is not a part of a mosque, the point being that they're not really interfering with belief or worship, just with a building. But again, while I think this matters strategically and technically, it is a very, very thin layer of icing on a very big pile of steaming shit.

Nonetheless, this reminds me of the debate as it has been going on in some W-European countries about a ban on burka's, which is generally framed in terms of a security issue (if we can't see they're faces than they may be Osama bin Laden) rather than a cultural issue. As with minarets in Switzerland, this too is a complete non-issue since hardly anyone wears these things anyway.

elmwood
11-29-2009, 08:36 PM
That's a little beyond my scope, MEBuckner. My belief is that religious bigotry is wrong, that using constitutional amendments and zoning permit hearings to further one's religious bigotry is wrong, and that the former happens in Switzerland while the latter occurs here in the USA. It's outside my purview to examine the souls of this message board's participants.

There have been relatively few attempts in the US to block a place of worship because it practices a certain faith, and such cases have been always overturned by the courts. ALWAYS. In a disproportionately large number of what few cases are out there, it's a community that is predominantly Reform and Conservative Jewish attempting to block Orthodox Jewish congregations. Beachwood, Ohio (95% Jewish) and many predominantly Jewish NYC suburbs have attempted to block Orthodox congregations. I explained the reasons why Jews want to keep out other Jews in an earlier. thread

Like I said before, when a zoning code prohibits a place of worship, it's always because of the context of the use in relation to the location (zoning district, size, traffic impacts, and so on), NEVER because of the individual faith. NEVER.

One could say that zoning codes are more discriminatory against evangelical and non-denomination Christian congregations than the places of worship of other faiths. Why? Because evangelical congregations are more prone to rapid growth to megachurch proportions; incorporate commercial uses such as bookstores, coffeehouses and broadcast studios; have activities and services throughout the week at all hours; and often provide functions and services similar to that of community centers, with gyms, pools and athletic facilities. It's NOT because they worship Jesus, but because the externalities of evangelical and nondenominational congregations are usually greater than those of other denominations and faiths.

My MUP, AICP certification, hours in RLUIPA seminars, and experience writing zoning codes are my cite.

Gestalt
11-29-2009, 08:44 PM
There are plenty of things one can do to continue to enjoy their culture in a foreign land, and good for all of them. But if the local populace feel that some of those things conflict with the culture you've moved to, I think you are bound to defer to the people's home you moved to.

Who defines what the culture of the immigrated-to country is, though? If Muslims come to make up a significant minority of the Swiss population (say, 3%), should a proportionate number of houses of worship also be Muslim? That is to say, is it a numbers game?

Or does it depend on ancestry? What about second and third generation Muslims who were born in Switzerland but still hold their religion dear? Should they not be allowed to construct houses of worship because their beliefs are not "Swiss" enough?

Would you react the exact same way if Israel or Egypt or India banned the building of churches?
Also, I would also like to hear your answer about the question upthread about the responsibilities of Jewish immigrants to early 20th-century United States . . . no synagogues for them?

Horatio Hellpop
11-29-2009, 08:45 PM
Did you even read the sites you cited?

Frederick County was about rezoning an agricultural land. If it had been a Walmart, I'm sure the same thing would have happened.

Rockville was about the federal government seize the property because Iran was using the mosque as a front to illegally funnel money back to Iran.

Okay, to take your questions in order:

Yes.

I had numerous conversations with local residents about this hearing, and two things they didn't mention were Wal-Mart and a concern for Maryland's family farms. Please don't pretend that an anti-Islamic bias can't be at work here.

Muslims in the area just don't like being held to a different standard. Seizing a place of worship is a pretty drastic step, and they feel like a few Lutheran churches should go down before one of theirs gets seized. Either the buildings themselves are all sacred and off-limits to law enforcement, or none of them is.

elmwood
11-29-2009, 08:55 PM
One more thing: most zoning codes in the US have provisions that exempt church steeples from height requirements. Every planner I've spoken to about this considers a minaret a "steeple" for the sake of zoning, since they provide an identical function. Many zoning codes are being rewritten to include "minaret" with "steeple". If a bigoted planner, planning commission or city council attempotd to block a minaret in the US, the result would be something like this in the courts:

"So, you allow steeples but not minarets."
"Yes."
"Would you require a mosque that reused a church to tear down the steeple?"
"No. It's a pre-existing nonconforming use."
"Would you let a church that moved into a former mosque without a minaret to erect a steeple?"
"Yes."
"Would you say minarets are functionally similar, if not identical to steeples?"
"I guess so."
"So, why would you prohibit a minaret?"
"Uhhhhh ... well .... call to prayer, that's it!"
"How is the impact of a call to prayer different than bells?
"Uhhhhh ...."
"What public benefit is served by banning minarets but not steeples?"
"Uhhhhh ...."
"How is this not discriminatory against a particular faith?
"Uhhhh ...."
"Rule in favor of the mosque. Case dismissed."

MEBuckner
11-29-2009, 09:01 PM
Muslims in the area just don't like being held to a different standard. Seizing a place of worship is a pretty drastic step, and they feel like a few Lutheran churches should go down before one of theirs gets seized. Either the buildings themselves are all sacred and off-limits to law enforcement, or none of them is.
You're talking about the mosque that was seized for allegedly funneling money to Iran, right?

You think the feds should seize a couple of Lutheran churches that aren't breaking any laws, because somehow that would be "fair"? Or are you contending that the U.S. government would never seize a Christian church? Because the U.S. government has seized churches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indianapolis_Baptist_Temple) in the past, when those churches break the law. (Tax law, in that case.) None of the buildings (Christian, Muslim, or other) is off-limits to law enforcement.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 09:02 PM
Well, Dorothea (or Ms. Book, if you prefer)...

You may call me Dotty. ;)

I don't think you need my permission for anything including calling the Swiss People's Party Nazis. But since you asked: I wouldn't. It distorts the debate, invokes the holocaust inappropriately (to the detriment of both the victims of the holocaust and, presumably less importantly, the people the slur is directed at) and it lends credence to the claims of right-wingers that they are being 'demonized' while they're really only voicing what everyone is thinking, but what the liberal/social democratic elites don't want you to know.

I actually agree that it's a mistake to make analogies between this and that reprehensible group and the Nazis. But to be fair I wasn't saying that the Swiss People's Party are Nazis. I was saying that the Nazis used the preservation of (what they took to be) the dominant or traditional German culture as an excuse to persecute minorities and operate a repressive regime. That's a point that I hoped magellan01 might appreciate--not a crude analogy between the SPP and the Nazis.

(All that said, any google search will reveal plenty of comparisons of the kind you dislike; we are after all talking about a nationalist people's party, which has taken a rightwing stance toward immigrants and religious minorities, in a country that had an actual Nazi presence earlier in the twentieth century. But, again, that actually wasn't my point in bringing up the fact of the Nazi's professed cultural agenda.)

I believe that it was the Swiss People's Party's strategy to tackle particularly [I]this issue first because they could most easily make the argument that it's not a separation of church and state issue. On the (German) wikipedia-site about this controversy, I read that they make an argument that a minaret is not a part of a mosque, the point being that they're not really interfering with belief or worship, just with a building. But again, while I think this matters strategically and technically, it is a very, very thin layer of icing on a very big pile of steaming shit.

Well, I haven't got any knowledge of Swiss constitutional law but if the SPP were trying to make this technical case it seems a patently obvious one. How can anyone, on the one hand, ban a building unique to a particular religion while, on the other hand, claiming it is "just a building."

Švejk
11-29-2009, 09:18 PM
well, Dotty, the crux is that they're not saying 'it's just a building', but they ARE saying that it is only the building they are addressing, as opposed to actual Muslim beliefs. That is why they make the case that mosques do not need minarets. In this pamphlet (http://www.minarette.ch/pdf/flyer-d.pdf), the first thing they say is that 'Even in the Muslim world, the minaret has nothing to do with the content of religious belief'. But then again, they do seem to mostly base their arguments on some sort of very overt fifth-column belief - that somehow these minarets are a front for intolerant Islamism, which they cannot have in Switzerland because they are a tolerant liberal democracy :rolleyes:. It really surprises me that they are so open about this being an anti-Islam thing.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 09:22 PM
And Germany has a culture that the Nazis were eager to preserve.

Can't you see how state-sanctioned bigotry against a particular religion is dangerous and, yes, un-Swiss (insofar as Switzerland, though insular, has prided itself for centuries on its tolerance and liberality).

The core of a democratic society includes separation of church and state and equal rights for all, including minorities (religious or otherwise). Preserving of cultures is something that can ideally been done in civil society. And religious culture in particular is no business of the state (except in very narrow cases where the rights of individuals are at stake).

This isn't a problem unique to Switzerland, of course. It's a problem throughout large swathes of Europe.

But the Swiss have really betrayed their own principles--as very large numbers of them seem fully to realize.

They're not banning the religion, they're banning a particular type of architecture. Nantucket does it. Parts of Cape Cod do it. I'm sure other areas in the country do it. Good for The Swiss for want to preserve their culture. And if the shoe was on the other foot, and people in an ME country didn't want a church steeple, I'd think that is fine, too. It seems all these wonderful cultures across the globe are so rich and beautiful and worthy of respect and preservation. Unless it's a dominant western one.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 09:25 PM
Who defines what the culture of the immigrated-to country is, though? If Muslims come to make up a significant minority of the Swiss population (say, 3%), should a proportionate number of houses of worship also be Muslim? That is to say, is it a numbers game?

Or does it depend on ancestry? What about second and third generation Muslims who were born in Switzerland but still hold their religion dear? Should they not be allowed to construct houses of worship because their beliefs are not "Swiss" enough?

Would you react the exact same way if Israel or Egypt or India banned the building of churches?
Also, I would also like to hear your answer about the question upthread about the responsibilities of Jewish immigrants to early 20th-century United States . . . no synagogues for them?

They are NOT banning the religion or mosques. Just minarets. Try to keep the analogy straight.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 09:25 PM
Re Švejk's last post:


So that the ban on minarets has nothing to do with actual beliefs--except the supposedly intolerant beliefs they want to suppress (intolerantly). Most bizarre.

Well I don't speak more than a few words of German, but the picture of the pointy minaret tearing through Switzerland is worth a thousand words...er, 1,000 Worte.

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 09:29 PM
They're not banning the religion, they're banning a particular type of architecture. Nantucket does it. Parts of Cape Cod do it. I'm sure other areas in the country do it.

Plenty of places have zoning ordnances to limit the types of architecture you can build, no where I know of has such a thing on a national level. The two things aren't equivalent, as others noted, Switzerland has plenty of buildings that are obviously not made to blend into any sort of national architecture.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 09:29 PM
They're not banning the religion, they're banning a particular type of architecture. Nantucket does it. Parts of Cape Cod do it. I'm sure other areas in the country do it. Good for The Swiss for want to preserve their culture. And if the shoe was on the other foot, and people in an ME country didn't want a church steeple, I'd think that is fine, too. It seems all these wonderful cultures across the globe are so rich and beautiful and worthy of respect and preservation. Unless it's a dominant western one.

Yes, but the particular type of architecture is unique to one religion. So while not a ban on the religion in toto it's a species of religious ban.

You don't seem to be thinking about how important it is to protect the equal rights of minorities (religious or otherwise). Or perhaps it's just that democratic principles don't matter to you.

Švejk
11-29-2009, 09:30 PM
Re Švejk's last post:

So that the ban on minarets has nothing to do with actual beliefs--except the supposedly intolerant beliefs they want to suppress (intolerantly). Most bizarre.


It is - but judging by Magellan01's posts, it's working :rolleyes:


Well I don't speak more than a few words of German, but the picture of the pointy minaret tearing through Switzerland is worth a thousand words...er, 1,000 Worte.

Wörter, actually.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 09:32 PM
Wörter, actually.

Oh well, so much for my one year of German in the 9th grade...

magellan01
11-29-2009, 09:34 PM
Plenty of places have zoning ordnances to limit the types of architecture you can build, no where I know of has such a thing on a national level. The two things aren't equivalent, as others noted, Switzerland has plenty of buildings that are obviously not made to blend into any sort of national architecture.

There are two types of "violations", if you will. One is an architectural style that doe not add the the current one. For instance, just a plain warehouse or an ordinary high-rise office building. The other type not only does not add to the existing aesthetic, but actively moves it in another direction. The minarets fall into the latter category, making it more worthy of concern (if one is so inclined) than just a bland building.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 09:39 PM
Yes, but the particular type of architecture is unique to one religion. So while not a ban on the religion in toto it's a species of religious ban.

So what? They are not banning the religion. They are not banning mosques. They are banning a flourish that conflicts with the Swiss aesthetic. Good for them.

You don't seem to be thinking about how important it is to protect the equal rights of minorities (religious or otherwise). Or perhaps it's just that democratic principles don't matter to you.

I respect very much the rights of the Swiss people. I'm supporting the position they voted for democratically. I think cultures are valuable and beautiful things. As I said, if an Eastern predominantly Muslim country wanted to ban church steeples, I'd respect that, too. What's wrong with that?

Simplicio
11-29-2009, 09:49 PM
There are two types of "violations", if you will. One is an architectural style that doe not add the the current one. For instance, just a plain warehouse or an ordinary high-rise office building. The other type not only does not add to the existing aesthetic, but actively moves it in another direction. The minarets fall into the latter category, making it more worthy of concern (if one is so inclined) than just a bland building.

The McDonalds building and gas station shown in the flicker links were hardly bland (indeed, their garish eye-catching colors by design). Frankly, I have trouble believing you think this is some sort of aesthetic zoning ordinance that just happens to cover the whole country and involves a constitutional referenda. How many other architectural bans are codified in the Swiss constitution?

Plus, as also noted above, the Swiss were hardly facing some huge plague of gigantic Minarets in their cities. There are four in the whole country, and the two we could find pictures of were relatively small and one appeared to have been designed to look vaguely steeple like.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 09:53 PM
Frankly, I have trouble believing you think this is some sort of aesthetic zoning ordinance that just happens to cover the whole country and involves a constitutional referenda. He's using the same tactics he has with his opposition to single sex marriage; pretending that the issue is all about protecting a culture ( this case ) or a word ( SSM ). And not about a bunch of prejudiced people trying to hurt the people they are prejudiced against.

Monty
11-29-2009, 09:58 PM
Either the buildings themselves are all sacred and off-limits to law enforcement, or none of them is.

In point of fact, none of those buildings is off-limits to law enforcement.

alphaboi867
11-29-2009, 10:03 PM
Anybody know how the Swiss legislation defines "minaret" or "call to prayer"? What if a group of Muslims either built a mosque that was externally identical to a local church (replacing the Cross with a Cresent) or simply purchased an existing church? Is the tall think sticking out of the church a steeple or a minaret? What if instead of announcing prayers over a loudspeaker they ring a large bell at prayer time?

Gary Baldy
11-29-2009, 10:14 PM
Okay, to take your questions in order:

Yes.

I had numerous conversations with local residents about this hearing, and two things they didn't mention were Wal-Mart and a concern for Maryland's family farms. Please don't pretend that an anti-Islamic bias can't be at work here.

Muslims in the area just don't like being held to a different standard. Seizing a place of worship is a pretty drastic step, and they feel like a few Lutheran churches should go down before one of theirs gets seized. Either the buildings themselves are all sacred and off-limits to law enforcement, or none of them is.

So the locals didn't mention Wal-Mart, but that doesn't negate the fact that the land was zoned for farmland.

Also, I completely argee with you that Lutheran churches should be seized by the federal government is those churches are laundering money to Iran. If that seems farfetched to you, how about seizing Catholic churches laundering money to the mafia?

Paul in Qatar
11-29-2009, 10:33 PM
So mosques with no minarets are better because you cannot send money abroad? Of course the Swiss of all people taking exception to moving money around is laughable on the face of it.

What shall we do about the Catholic churches that launder money for the Pope? The Orthodox churches that launder money for Moscow? Perhaps if we forced them to build their churches a certain way they too could be prevented from sending money places we do not like?

magellan01
11-29-2009, 10:33 PM
He's using the same tactics he has with his opposition to single sex marriage; pretending that the issue is all about protecting a culture ( this case ) or a word ( SSM ). And not about a bunch of prejudiced people trying to hurt the people they are prejudiced against.

Still, it has dawned on you that I favor protecting an existing culture? Even, as I've pointed out twice, Muslim ones on the middle east. Am I surprised you missed arriving at such a logical conclusion? Not in the least.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 10:37 PM
The McDonalds building and gas station shown in the flicker links were hardly bland (indeed, their garish eye-catching colors by design). Frankly, I have trouble believing you think this is some sort of aesthetic zoning ordinance that just happens to cover the whole country and involves a constitutional referenda. How many other architectural bans are codified in the Swiss constitution?

I don't know. But they are free to restrict the architecture as they see fit. Mosques, McDonald's, it's up to them.

Plus, as also noted above, the Swiss were hardly facing some huge plague of gigantic Minarets in their cities. There are four in the whole country, and the two we could find pictures of were relatively small and one appeared to have been designed to look vaguely steeple like.

Well, they made an attempt. I thought the steeple-like one was a nice attempt. But this is up to the people of Switzerland. And good for them for taking action now, before they "plague" the picturesque country.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 10:39 PM
Still, it has dawned on you that I favor protecting an existing culture? No; I don't believe for a moment that is your motivation; any more than it is the motive of the people supporting this law

elmwood
11-29-2009, 10:40 PM
There are two types of "violations", if you will. One is an architectural style that doe not add the the current one. For instance, just a plain warehouse or an ordinary high-rise office building. The other type not only does not add to the existing aesthetic, but actively moves it in another direction. The minarets fall into the latter category, making it more worthy of concern (if one is so inclined) than just a bland building.

Well, what about modern and postmodern architecture, which is quite common in Switzerland (http://www.mimoa.nl/browse/projects/Switzerland)? Modern architecture is really pulling the Swiss collective architectural aesthetic into a radically different direction, away from the traditional "mountain yodeler" timber-framed style (http://aircrafter.org/boggs/europe_trip/pictures/2003.08.12-20.02.55_pic.jpg) into something that is more Scandinavian than Franco-Teutonic.

Do a Google image search for "Swiss architecture (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&um=1&sa=1&q=swiss+architecture&btnG=Search+images&aq=f&oq=&aqi=&start=0)". You'll find as much, if not more pomo than yodel-lay-hee-hoo.

Nava
11-29-2009, 10:43 PM
This is why the government shouldn't get involved in religion. Be thankful for the 1st Amendment, America.

The "government" in this case being the voters. It's a direct democracy, their "government officers" aren't decision-makers.

In Switzerland, people have to vote on things like "does the town's casino, which is an emblematic building, get to repaint?" (followed by "what color"). That was a ballot question during the time I lived in Basel. There's places where the voters meet once a year and others where there's a ballot every Saturday.

magellan01
11-29-2009, 10:45 PM
Well, what about modern and postmodern architecture, which is quite common in Switzerland (http://www.mimoa.nl/browse/projects/Switzerland)? Modern architecture is really pulling the Swiss collective architectural aesthetic into a radically different direction, away from the traditional "mountain yodeler" timber-framed style (http://aircrafter.org/boggs/europe_trip/pictures/2003.08.12-20.02.55_pic.jpg) into something that is more Scandinavian than Franco-Teutonic.

Do a Google image search for "Swiss architecture (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&um=1&sa=1&q=swiss+architecture&btnG=Search+images&aq=f&oq=&aqi=&start=0)". You'll find as much, if not more pomo than yodel-lay-hee-hoo.

See Post #98.

It is up to the Swiss people to determine which architecture to promote, which is acceptable, and which they'd like to discourage or ban.

Švejk
11-29-2009, 10:46 PM
Anybody know how the Swiss legislation defines "minaret" or "call to prayer"? What if a group of Muslims either built a mosque that was externally identical to a local church (replacing the Cross with a Cresent) or simply purchased an existing church? Is the tall think sticking out of the church a steeple or a minaret? What if instead of announcing prayers over a loudspeaker they ring a large bell at prayer time?

The referendum ballot required a yes or no as to whether the Swiss constitution should be changed to include article 72.3.: "The building of minarets is forbidden", in the section on the relation between church and state (link (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontroverse_um_den_Bau_von_Minaretten_in_der_Schweiz#Eidgen.C3.B6ssische_Volksinitiative_.C2.ABGegen _den_Bau_von_Minaretten.C2.BB)). I suppose that it is up to the judiciary to actually decide on what is and is not a minaret, I can't see what other source in the law there is at this point.

as a point of interest, I'll mention that the wikipedia site in the link above (which is in German, unfortunately) discusses how referenda concerning questions that jeopardize certain fundamental rights grounded in the Swiss constitution are void; an argument was made here, however, that this particular referendum does not relate to religion as such, but rather one aspect (and an alienable one, so it is argued) of the building in which worship of said religion takes place.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 10:56 PM
No; I don't believe for a moment that is your motivation; any more than it is the motive of the people supporting this law

Why not Der Trihs? I completely believe him.

When magellan01 says that he favors "protecting an existing culture" I think he is being honest about how he sees his views.

What he doesn't acknowledge or notice, however, is that he favors protecting an existing majority culture against an existing minority culture.

He thinks he's on solid moral ground because he's willing to see majority cultures protected where ever they are found. He doesn't care if Middle East Muslims discriminate against other religions because he would like to a kind of quid pro quo in which Western countries like Switzerland (countries in which the majority of people are either Christian or secular) may then (presumably in good conscience) discriminate against a minority religion--as 57% of the Swiss electorate has now voted to do.

There is nothing inconsistent about magellan01's position; it's just deeply undemocratic and illiberal. He's endorsing the principle that it's fine for the majority to tyrannize and discriminate (in the name of culture) so long as the same right is granted to any majority within their own national borders.

I believe he is sincere; and I believe his views are much more dangerous than he may realize.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 11:04 PM
Why not Der Trihs? I completely believe him.
Because it's a position he claims no matter how baseless or incoherent it is. Judging from his performance in threads on SSM, he'll use whatever definition of "preserving Swiss culture" he can, as long as it excuses slapping Muslims. He's already squirming around in this thread; dismissing other buildings that remain unbanned as not really counting as "non-traditional".

Bottom line; I don't regard his "defense of tradition" as anything but an excuse.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 11:17 PM
Because it's a position he claims no matter how baseless or incoherent it is. Judging from his performance in threads on SSM, he'll use whatever definition of "preserving Swiss culture" he can, as long as it excuses slapping Muslims. He's already squirming around in this thread; dismissing other buildings that remain unbanned as not really counting as "non-traditional".

Bottom line; I don't regard his "defense of tradition" as anything but an excuse.

It may be his M.O. but what does it actually excuse?

Trying to use the power of the state to privilege one cultural tradition over another is, as I said, deeply illiberal. His "excuse," as you call it, is a form of state-sanctioned ethnocentrism. And like all state-sanctioned forms of privilege, it can result in state-sanctioned racism (or other kinds of prejudice).

So if what you're trying to say is that

state-sanctioned traditionalism = state-sanctioned ethnocentrism = (depending on context) state-sanctioned racism/ homophobia/religious intolerance

you are probably right.

But isn't that patently evident?

The "excuse", in other words, is no excuse at all...

eenerms
11-29-2009, 11:27 PM
Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.


There is a Catholic Church (new building) in Doha, Qatar. Opened last year.

Der Trihs
11-29-2009, 11:44 PM
It may be his M.O. but what does it actually excuse? Nothing, really. I didn't say it was a good excuse.

Dorothea Book
11-29-2009, 11:56 PM
Nothing, really. I didn't say it was a good excuse.

Fair enough.

AK84
11-30-2009, 01:15 AM
I don't get it..the Swiss are saying to immigrants:" we like our country the way it is"-what is wrong with this? Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built.The muslims seem to be hypocritical-they want freedom for their religious beliefs, but they don't want the same freedom extended to others. Ad to that, their insane reactions when they think their religion has been insulted (ask the Danes).

Well I am asking you now (http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=402815).

Nametag
11-30-2009, 01:31 AM
Just a few facts to help keep this dialogue on track:

Switzerland promotes religious freedom, but "separation of church and state" is not an argument there. The concept as an official policy was overwhelmingly rejected as recently as 1980. Switzerland as a whole has no state religion, but all but two of the 26 cantons recognize official churches (the Roman Catholic and Swiss Reformed churches in all of those cantons, plus Jewish and Old Catholic (called Christian Catholic in Switzerland) congregations in some), which are funded with taxes.

Switzerland is extremely conservative about its culture. It's harder to become a naturalized citizen than any other European country (I think - this varies by community, believe it or not), and there are requirements about adopting Swiss culture; this is not unique, but again, it's more strict than in other countries. I'm not sure exactly how they judge this integration, though, so it may not be so bad everywhere.

What this means, though, is that Muslims moving to Switzerland are unlikely to become citizens; they'd have to give up their way of life. And since being born in Switzerland doesn't mean jack, their children must face the decision if they don't. So you're unlikely to see a significant Muslim voting bloc for a good long while, if ever.

AK84
11-30-2009, 01:59 AM
Moral of the story, don't be anything but a German/French/Italian/Romanni(sp?) speaker, or a person of European desent in Europe.

Indistinguishable
11-30-2009, 02:07 AM
Surely the Romani speakers have plenty of problems of their own...

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 02:12 AM
Speakers of Romansh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romansh_language) are probably OK (although they are a small minority).

Speakers of Romani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_language), on the other hand, might very well face problems with assimiliation and acceptance if they moved to Switzerland.

AK84
11-30-2009, 02:25 AM
Speakers of Romansh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romansh_language) are probably OK (although they are a small minority).

Speakers of Romani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_language), on the other hand, might very well face problems with assimiliation and acceptance if they moved to Switzerland.

Thank for the correction, I have always mixed the names up.:(

Odesio
11-30-2009, 02:32 AM
On occasion it's nice to know that Americans aren't the only ones who can be xenophobic.

Desert Nomad
11-30-2009, 02:34 AM
There is a Catholic Church (new building) in Doha, Qatar. Opened last year.

Aa well as churches in UAE, Tunisia, Iran, Turkey, and Malaysia (among others).

Captain Amazing
11-30-2009, 02:50 AM
Moral of the story, don't be anything but a German/French/Italian/Romanni(sp?) speaker, or a person of European desent in Europe.

In Switzerland, at least. In fact, don't be of non-Swiss descent if you can help it.

jjimm
11-30-2009, 03:27 AM
The aesthetic argument some people are trying out here kinda falls down for me.

Totally 100% Swiss. (http://www.artsintulsa.com/Photos%20for%20Art/Germany/Germany-Web/Swiss-Church-Steeple-W.jpg)* Must be preserved.

OMG doesn't fit in with our heritage! (http://dailycontributor.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/switzerland-minaret-law-ban.jpg) Ban it!

*Apparently a 19th century import from Russia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_dome#Outside_Russia).

Xotan
11-30-2009, 04:49 AM
Should we roll tanks into Chinatown? :rolleyes:

To answer your question, no they shouldn't. You also make the assumption that they weren't assimilating, or that if they weren't, it was their fault and not the fault of the society in question refusing to let them.

Der Trihs

I wasn't particularly looking for answers. I was floating ideas that people will have to address at some point. The questions are difficult ones, and answers will certainly not be found on a forum like this. They are really refer to matters that must evolve - go through a process. Nothing is cut and dried.

As to foreign communities not assimilating, I didn't particularly intend to make such an assertion. But since you hold me to it, it is true in many cases. In Britain, for example, there is a culture within a culture where brides are sent to the incomers' homeland to marry, or that country's mores and customs are followed regardless of the host country's laws: where foreign religion has been used as a cover for subversion. This is assimilation? Contrariwise, I have several acquaintances here in France who have assimilated. There is no indication I can see that they are treated any differently by the native French than I am.

I am curious as to how and where incoming people are not allowed to assimilate. This is something beyond my knowledge and experience.

Another point was raised that Christian Churches are allowed in Muslim countries. It well may be so in some/many. My personal knowledge extends only to Egypt where I have friends who are Copts. Although they are approaching 20% of the population, they are allowed one TV slot in the year; their churches are generally becoming decrepit as they are not allowed to carry out major repairs as they require permission, which is, in their view, deliberately put on hold... A cathedral, on my last visit, was still in an unfinished state, after about 15 years, because the necessary authorisations were not forthcoming... But this is all beyond the scope of the original question. It does show that tolerance, wherever, can be far from straightforward.

I'll finish with another two points to ponder: does a country (from government down to citizen) have a right/duty to protect and preserve its culture, religion, patrimony? How would America feel about having to deal with an Islamic European Union, OR about Islam becoming a majority religion within its own borders?

Please don't assume I am taking one side or the other. I am not.

Nava
11-30-2009, 04:56 AM
magellan01 ... favors protecting an existing majority culture against an existing minority culture.

...

There is nothing inconsistent about magellan01's position; it's just deeply undemocratic and illiberal.

How is "defending the choice of the majority" = "undemocratic"? Now, if you are one of those people who are democratic until the other people (in this case, those you view as "illiberal") win, then go ahead.

I don't like this particular Swiss decision, but nobody can say it wasn't democratic.

Kamino Neko
11-30-2009, 05:09 AM
:rolleyes: There are Christian churches in most Muslim countries. They're not all Saudi Arabia.

And, even if it were true that every majority or officially Muslim country was oppressive toward other religions, if oppression shouldn't be accepted from them, why should it be accepted from majority or officially Christian countries?

Mr. Excellent
11-30-2009, 05:28 AM
How is "defending the choice of the majority" = "undemocratic"? Now, if you are one of those people who are democratic until the other people (in this case, those you view as "illiberal") win, then go ahead.

I don't like this particular Swiss decision, but nobody can say it wasn't democratic.

I agree, actually. There isn't the slightest hint of unfairness in this vote - it is nothing less than the freely expressed will of the majority of Swiss voters. It's democracy in its purest form.

Which is precisely why we should *not* view democracy as the highest good in a political process. *A* good, certainly - a measure of democracy is a splendid thing, as it keeps governments reasonably honest and accountable to the people. However, the will of the people unchecked merely turns "the people" into a particularly many-headed tyrant. Say what you will about the American political system, but it takes this point to heart (at the federal level) - there are major checks on the majority will, implemented precisely to protect minority rights.

adaher
11-30-2009, 05:32 AM
Exactly. Democracy is merely a means to an end. The end is liberty and equality under the law for all.

When democracy conflicts with those ideals, democracy must be suppressed. That's why we have a Bill of Rights, and why the powers of the different levels of government are strictly defined.

Switzerland apparently doesn't have religious freedom unless approved by 51% of the population.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 05:38 AM
I am curious as to how and where incoming people are not allowed to assimilate. This is something beyond my knowledge and experience.
With some terrible exceptions, the U.S. seems to be doing a better job of assimilating Muslims than the European countries are. In turn, this seems to be related to the fact that--again, with some unfortunate exceptions--we have no official or semi-official policy of telling Muslims they must abandon Islam in order to be "Real Americans".
I'll finish with another two points to ponder: does a country (from government down to citizen) have a right/duty to protect and preserve its culture, religion, patrimony?
In my opinion, governments have little to no duty to protect "culture" or "patrimony", and none to protect "religion". They do have a duty to protect the physical security of the country; the rights, liberties, and secular welfare of the citizens; and the political order which maintains all of the above. Individual citizens (and voluntary associations of individual citizens) are of course free to protect (by peaceful, non-coercive means) whatever cultural and religious patrimonies they desire.
How would America feel about having to deal with an Islamic European Union, OR about Islam becoming a majority religion within its own borders?
Personally, I would prefer a secular humanist Europe and a secular humanist America, but a majority Muslim country is no more alien to me and my values than a majority Christian or Jewish country is, IF the majority was accomplished by peaceful means and it respects a liberal political order (including such things as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.S. Bill of Rights, European Charter of Fundamental Rights, or Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Given the current level of support for "Islamism" (Islamic politics and politicized Islam) and Islamic law in the Muslim world, it's not completely ridiculous to fear that a Muslim-majority state would infringe on the rights of non-Muslims, in ways that Christian-majority states generally don't (at least not any more). However, things like this minaret ban are not only unjust but also wrong-headed, as they are far more likely to radicalize Muslims than to liberalize them, and drive them into embracing Islamism and sharia instead of Western (political) values and equal rights for all.

Mr. Excellent
11-30-2009, 05:56 AM
However, things like this minaret ban are not only unjust but also wrong-headed, as they are far more likely to radicalize Muslims than to liberalize them, and drive them into embracing Islamism and sharia instead of Western (political) values and equal rights for all.

This. What policies like the minaret ban show Muslims is that the values of liberal democracy are incompatible with Islam. That isn't so, of course - but when a prominent liberal democracy does something *this* baldly calculated as a slap in the face to Muslims, it's understandable when people believe that.

Mr. Excellent
11-30-2009, 06:03 AM
How would America feel about having to deal with an Islamic European Union, OR about Islam becoming a majority religion within its own borders?


You know, people love to play the "what if America *changes*?" card. We do it with immigration, too - "What if America becomes majority Spanish-speaking because we're too soft on immigration?"

It's absurd - MEBuckner has it right. America isn't a language, or a religion, or a skin color. What defines us as a culture is our commitment to liberal, constitutional democracy - a nation governed by the rule of law, informed by the will of the majority but protective of minority rights. If we become a Spanish-speaking state, then we will be a Spanish-speaking liberal constitutional democracy. If we become a majority Muslim state, then we will be a majority Muslim liberal constitutional democracy.

Our institutions require nothing at all to function, save only that men and women of good will respect and honor them. Everything else is window dressing.

ruadh
11-30-2009, 06:08 AM
There is nothing inconsistent about magellan01's position; it's just deeply undemocratic and illiberal.

Well, there is something inconsistent about the fact that he uses the name of a European conquistador who landed on Pacific islands and attempted to convert the natives to his own religion.

ivan astikov
11-30-2009, 06:10 AM
Switzerland apparently doesn't have religious freedom unless approved by 51% of the population.

Can someone remind me why anywhere should, bearing in mind the amount of conflict it has caused since its invention?

Gestalt
11-30-2009, 06:13 AM
They are NOT banning the religion or mosques. Just minarets. Try to keep the analogy straight.

Okay, fair enough, although minarets are a part of Muslim worship; how integral, I don't know.

So if Israel, Egypt and Bangladesh banned churches with steeples, that would be a-ok with you?

And the United States in 1920 was free to tell its Jews not to build synagogues with Hebrew letters on the side?

Sophistry and Illusion
11-30-2009, 06:19 AM
What defines us as a culture is our commitment to liberal, constitutional democracy - a nation governed by the rule of law, informed by the will of the majority but protective of minority rights. If we become a Spanish-speaking state, then we will be a Spanish-speaking liberal constitutional democracy. If we become a majority Muslim state, then we will be a majority Muslim liberal constitutional democracy.

Our institutions require nothing at all to function, save only that men and women of good will respect and honor them. Everything else is window dressing.
But that's the fear, isn't it? That a majority-Muslim state would be illiberal--that the majority would have illiberal values, and would impose these values on the nation as a whole, through referendums and other legal means (just as Christians in the US impose their values through ballot initiatives and the legislature).

Of course the irony is that the Swiss chose to combat this perceived threat by implementing the very thing they feared--an illiberal infringement of liberty, tyranny of the majority.

adaher
11-30-2009, 06:28 AM
In defense of Europe in general, it's a different place than America. Most people in France are well, French. Most people in Germany are, er, German. They aren't a nation set up around an ideal, they are a nation in terms of race, which makes them fundamentally different from America, which is an idea. Anyone can be an American. While anyone can be a French or German citizen, that's different from actually being French or German.

I think that to a great extent, nations founded on a concept of a common heritage and common language deserve greater deference when it comes to defending that heritage from outsiders.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 06:35 AM
Switzerland apparently doesn't have religious freedom unless approved by 51% of the population.
Can someone remind me why anywhere should, bearing in mind the amount of conflict it has caused since its invention?
Religious freedom doesn't cause conflict; religious freedom is the only thing that allows people of different religions to live together in anything resembling peace and harmony. And given human nature and the nature of religious claims, absent some kind of really ferocious Inquisition, any society will inevitably include people belonging to different religious groups, as even in an initially religiously homogenous society, sooner or later the Reformed Pastafarians will split off from the Orthodox Pastafarians, and then the Reformed Pastafarians will divide into the Reformed Pastafarians (Spaghettiists) and the Reformed Pastafarians (Vermicellians).
But that's the fear, isn't it? That a majority-Muslim state would be illiberal--that the majority would have illiberal values, and would impose these values on the nation as a whole, through referendums and other legal means (just as Christians in the US impose their values through ballot initiatives and the legislature).

Of course the irony is that the Swiss chose to combat this perceived threat by implementing the very thing they feared--an illiberal infringement of liberty, tyranny of the majority.
The other irony is that by combating the threat of Islamic illiberalism by these means, the Swiss make it more likely, not less, that any Muslims living among them will embrace illiberal forms of Islam.
In defense of Europe in general, it's a different place than America. Most people in France are well, French. Most people in Germany are, er, German. They aren't a nation set up around an ideal, they are a nation in terms of race, which makes them fundamentally different from America, which is an idea. Anyone can be an American. While anyone can be a French or German citizen, that's different from actually being French or German.
The President of France is named...Sarkozy. Is a he member of the French "race"?

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 06:39 AM
How is "defending the choice of the majority" = "undemocratic"? Now, if you are one of those people who are democratic until the other people (in this case, those you view as "illiberal") win, then go ahead.

I don't like this particular Swiss decision, but nobody can say it wasn't democratic.

I didn't say the Swiss decision was undemocratic; I said that magellan01's position was undemocratic (as well as illiberal)--which it is is because he seeks to empower the state to privilege the rights of some citizens (and people) over others and of majority cultures over minority cultures. Using the state to that end, especially where religion is concerned, is undemocratic.

I agree, actually. There isn't the slightest hint of unfairness in this vote...

I don't think you'll find that I said that the vote was unfair. It appears to have been procedurally correct.

Which is precisely why we should *not* view democracy as the highest good in a political process. *A* good, certainly - a measure of democracy is a splendid thing, as it keeps governments reasonably honest and accountable to the people. However, the will of the people unchecked merely turns "the people" into a particularly many-headed tyrant.

Exactly, Mr. Excellent. But for the very same reason, empowering the state to provide unequal privileges to some cultures and some citizens (or people) is undemocratic as well as illiberal. And, yes, a decision rendered democratically--if it is a decision about using the state's power unequally--can produce undemocratic effects. That is why functional democracies provide constitutional protections as you (and several others) have already noted at various points in this thread.

Say what you will about the American political system, but it takes this point to heart (at the federal level) - there are major checks on the majority will, implemented precisely to protect minority rights.

I agree. However, a side note. I'm no expert on the Swiss constitution whatsoever. But I would not be surprised if it has similar checks given the peculiar composition of Switzerland. I would not be surprised, in other words, if this decision ends up being contested through the Swiss courts (there is already mention in the NYT article about the violation of human rights treaties to which Switzerland is signatory).

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 06:41 AM
Well, there is something inconsistent about the fact that he [magellan01] uses the name of a European conquistador who landed on Pacific islands and attempted to convert the natives to his own religion.

Is there? ;)

ruadh
11-30-2009, 06:42 AM
Most people in France are well, French. Most people in Germany are, er, German. They aren't a nation set up around an ideal, they are a nation in terms of race

That is quite simply historically inaccurate. The people we now call "French" are a diverse lot including Franks, Bretons, Normans, Basques and so on. There is not one single race of French people. Or a single race of Germans, for that matter.

While anyone can be a French or German citizen, that's different from actually being French or German.

The French constitution suggests otherwise. The very first article makes it clear that there is to be no different treatment on the basis of "origin, race or religion".

I think that to a great extent, nations founded on a concept of a common heritage and common language deserve greater deference when it comes to defending that heritage from outsiders.

Well you certainly couldn't include Switzerland in that category.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 06:55 AM
I think that to a great extent, nations founded on a concept of a common heritage and common language deserve greater deference when it comes to defending that heritage from outsiders.

Well for one thing, Switzerland isn't a nation founded on a common language (as I see ruadh has noted above).

For another, you are suggesting that there be deference for only one component of polities founded as liberal democracies (some as republics, some as constitutional monarchies): the principle of nationality defined as common heritage. But no country that saw citizenship or even nationality in terms of common heritage exclusively could ever allow immigration in the first place.

But Europe has if anything been moving in the direction of greater internationalism and cosmopolitanism (through the European Union especially) up until this crisis over Islam (which is in complicated ways also a crisis over economic globalization--even though it appears to be about Muslims alone).

The latter crisis has ignited nationalisms, ethnocentrisms, and religious particularism against the more universalist human foundations for polity (within as well as across nations) which have made Europe a progressive continent in the postwar period.

So you are in a sense saying, "I think the most the most reactionary elements of Europe and of the nations within Europe should be given more deference than the least reactionary ones." But why should they?

And why should the Muslim citizens of Switzerland, who compose about 6 percent of the population IIRC, be considered "outsiders"?

adaher
11-30-2009, 06:56 AM
The President of France is named...Sarkozy. Is a he member of the French "race"?

I didn't imply that nations based on a common heritage should keep out those not part of that race. Only that such nations deserve greater understanding when they take measures to preserve that heritage.

A future America that is not white is still America. A Muslim France is not France, and I doubt it would even be called France anymore. And before anyone objects to that statement, think about if the Nazis had won and the Polish race was extinct. Would Poland be Poland if the population was all German?

The French constitution suggests otherwise. The very first article makes it clear that there is to be no different treatment on the basis of "origin, race or religion".

You're missing the point. France is a liberal democracy than welcomes immigrants. Of course it will treat them the same, as France should. However, any threat to France's national character is likely to be dealt with should it arise. The Muslim population is increasing. That is unsustainable if France is to continue to be French. Switzerland is doing what it feels it has to do, and there are politicians in every European nation that want even more drastic steps. And these aren't just fringe parties, they win substantial votes.

Superfluous Parentheses
11-30-2009, 07:00 AM
Can someone remind me why anywhere should, bearing in mind the amount of conflict it has caused since its invention?

Mostly, because there should be a right to freedom of thought. It doesn't matter that religions are counter productive; you shouldn't be able to just ban people from believing it. I would also expect that kind of ban to be ineffective and very prone to abuse against the religious - but perhaps that would be OK, since it would automatically make them criminals. :rolleyes:

I'm perfectly OK with a stronger influence against some of the more dangerous and stupid aspects of religion, using legal methods too if those aspects directly endanger others, but as for the OP, this kind of symbolic politics against a "problem" that barely even exists in Switzerland is just a backhanded attempt at discouraging muslims from living there. It's just big "fuck off, we don't like your kind around here" against muslims, pretending to be something else.

adaher
11-30-2009, 07:03 AM
No country that saw citizenship or even nationality in terms of common heritage exclusively could ever allow immigration in the first place.

Not at all. Even some of the most racist Arab nations allow immigration, but that doesn't mean they'd let say, Indian Hindus take over the United ARAB Emirates.

So you are in a sense saying, "I think the most the most reactionary elements of Europe and of the nations within Europe should be given more deference than the least reactionary ones."

Actually I think Europeans deserve more deference to defend what is "European" than Americans do to defend whatever the heck we consider "American". The only thing that is American is our concept of liberty. America is a nation of immigrants. Europe is a continent filled with white people who have lived there for thousands of years, and have been essentially Christian for about 1500 years.

Now when it comes to other cultures, those of us who consider ourselves progressive often lament how they disappear or get assimilated into more modern cultures. We feel that something has been lost. Wouldn't it be an even greater tragedy to lose the culture of Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Descartes, and Beethoven?

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 07:06 AM
A Muslim France is not France, and I doubt it would even be called France anymore.
What religion must one be in order to be French? Were the Huguenots French? Was Captain Dreyfus French?
And before anyone objects to that statement, think about if the Nazis had won and the Polish race was extinct. Would Poland be Poland if the population was all German?
The Nazis planned to subjugate and physically exterminate the Polish people. While Polish national identity is bound up with the Catholic Church for many people, I don't think you could say "Poland is dead!" if a majority of Poles happened to convert to Pentecostalism.

Der Trihs
11-30-2009, 07:22 AM
Actually I think Europeans deserve more deference to defend what is "European" than Americans do to defend whatever the heck we consider "American". The only thing that is American is our concept of liberty. :rolleyes: "Liberty" is hardly a concept unique to America. And America has just as much a distinct national culture as anywhere else.

Wouldn't it be an even greater tragedy to lose the culture of Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Descartes, and Beethoven?That culture is already long lost, if you insist on using such a narrow definition of culture. Switzerland + Islam would be far less different from present Switzerland than the modern West compared to the era of Galileo.

adaher
11-30-2009, 07:22 AM
What religion must one be in order to be French? Were the Huguenots French? Was Captain Dreyfus French?

Maybe I'm just not explaining myself. France, being a liberal democracy, welcomes all religions, as it should. But France is a Christian nation in character and has been for 1200 years, as long as Arabia has been Muslim.

When the Muslims controlled Spain, it was called Andalusia. When Spain became totally Catholic in the 15th century, its character changed. Even its name changed. Spain is not Andalusia. Likewise, if Germany conquered and settled France, it wouldn't be France.

While Polish national identity is bound up with the Catholic Church for many people, I don't think you could say "Poland is dead!" if a majority of Poles happened to convert to Pentecostalism.

No, as long as Poland is filled with Poles, it's Poland. If Poland became filled with Germans or Russians instead, it wouldn't be Poland, nor would it be called Poland.

France could still be France if it was Muslim, provided that the majority of Muslims were also French. If they weren't French, they'd probably change the name, finding it offensive. France would literally cease to exist.

adaher
11-30-2009, 07:26 AM
"Liberty" is hardly a concept unique to America. And America has just as much a distinct national culture as anywhere else.

Well, what liberty means to America is unique, I believe, but that's another discussion. As for America's culture, yes, we have a unique culture, but it's not bound up in race or religion. A black man is as American as a white man or a Hispanic man. I don't believe it's the same thing in Europe, and every immigrant I've spoken to who first emigrated to Europe before coming to America confirms this. Being a German or French citizen isn't the same as being German or French. They are two totally different things. There are German and French Americans. Leaving those countries, even if it was generations ago, doesn't make them any less German or French. Likewise, a Chinese person moving to Italy isn't Italian. He's Chinese with Italian citizenship.

ivan astikov
11-30-2009, 07:27 AM
Religious freedom doesn't cause conflict;

No, the freedom to publicly practice religion is what seems to cause the conflict.

If Muslims want buildings to congregate and practice their religious beliefs in - for god knows what reason that cannot be accomplished in an individual's home - they should share the ones that are already there; same goes for Christians in predominantly Muslim countries.

adaher
11-30-2009, 07:28 AM
Maybe this is the best way to explain:

Take France. France is a nation, but not just a nation, a people. The French people. They have been a people for at least 1200 years, united by a language, religion(to a lesser extent since the schism), and a culture.

America is a nation of immigrants a little more than 200 years old.

It shouldn't be hard to see how they might view immigration issues and assimilation differently from us.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 07:36 AM
France could still be France if it was Muslim, provided that the majority of Muslims were also French. If they weren't French, they'd probably change the name, finding it offensive. France would literally cease to exist.
Well, OK, except that you said "A Muslim France is not France". So it's not Islam per se, it's immigrants who happen to be Muslim. And yes, if 150 million Indonesians just upped and moved to France overnight, then "France" would presumably go the way of the Etruscans. The same would be true if 150 million Brazilians just upped and moved to France overnight, even though Brazil is a predominantly Catholic Christian country.

But as the example of President Sarkozy shows, immigrants (whose ancestors were not the Gauls) can nonetheless assimilate into being Frenchmen, since "French" is actually not a "racial" concept.

The question then becomes, what sorts of policies will persuade Muslim immigrants that their children can become French (Swiss, British, etc.)? I would say it's not policies which tell Muslim immigrants that they cannot be both Muslims and be French (Swiss, British, etc.).

adaher
11-30-2009, 07:43 AM
Well, OK, except that you said "A Muslim France is not France"

In practice, no, it wouldn't be, because there's no way very many ethnic French are going to convert. It's hard enough to get Frenchmen into church, much less a mosque.:)

But as the example of President Sarkozy shows, immigrants (whose ancestors were not the Gauls) can nonetheless assimilate into being Frenchmen, since "French" is actually not a "racial" concept.

You're right about Sarkozy and immigration, but French is a racial concept. There are a lot of Americans who are French. Saying French isn't a racial concept is like saying being Arab isn't a racial concept.

The question then becomes, what sorts of policies will persuade Muslim immigrants that their children can become French (Swiss, British, etc.)? I would say it's not policies which tell Muslim immigrants that they cannot be both Muslims and be French (Swiss, British, etc.).

It has to work both ways. Europe's not as enlightened about race as we are, to be sure(not saying we don't need to improve, but America is more inclusive). However, Muslims aren't very interested in assimilation and tend to have decidedly illiberal views that aren't compatible with Western civilization.

The reason Europe is having these issues is primarily because Muslim immigrants DON'T want to assimilate. They want the benefits of living in the West without having to become Westerners.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 07:52 AM
No, the freedom to publicly practice religion is what seems to cause the conflict.
Ridiculous. In societies like the United States where everyone is free to publicly practice their religions, there is a general harmony between different sects and religions. In societies where one religion is officially favored over those of minority groups, you get pogroms and riots (http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2005-10-22-egyptchurches_x.htm) (members of the officially-favored majority feel privileged over the "outsiders", who aren't true [whatevers] no matter how long they've lived there, and the majority religionists occasionally feel entitled to go and beat them up and take their stuff; these feelings are also highly susceptible to manipulation by power-hungry politicians with various agendas). In societies where minority religions are all but banned, like Saudi Arabia, you get simmering tensions, fears of religiously-based "fifth columns", and the occasional riot (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/02/international/middleeast/02shiites.html?pagewanted=print&position=).

jjimm
11-30-2009, 08:04 AM
There are a lot of Americans who are French.No there aren't. There are a lot of Americans who have French ancestry. They are American.

Arab is a pan-national racial identity. You can be a Syrian or a Moroccan Arab, concurrent with you living in Syria or Morocco. But what nationality is a Walloon (an ethnically French person living in Belgium)? Answer: they're Belgian.

My Muslim neighbours in England are English, of Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin.

Ludovic
11-30-2009, 08:05 AM
I'm perfectly OK with a stronger influence against some of the more dangerous and stupid aspects of religion, using legal methods too if those aspects directly endanger others, but as for the OP, this kind of symbolic politics against a "problem" that barely even exists in Switzerland is just a backhanded attempt at discouraging muslims from living there. It's just big "fuck off, we don't like your kind around here" against muslims, pretending to be something else.

I agree. Heck, I'm on the fence on the veil-banning in France, for instance, but banning a certain type of architecture, even if it were a given that it is formally codified in Islam as representing the political power of that religion, is ridiculous.

I'd go even further than many in this thread to crack down on some forms of Islam in western Europe and even then it's still ridiculous. There are some branches of Islamicism in western Europe that support the idea of imposing Sharia law on their country. I believe these branches should be marginalized, if not legally, then by their governments using the bully pulpit (which is why I am on the fence about veils.) But even banning minarets on those mosques would do nothing and could cause even more harm by (further) radicalizing the occupants.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 08:05 AM
Saying French isn't a racial concept is like saying being Arab isn't a racial concept.
Neither French nor Arab are "racial" concepts. "Race", as applied to humans, is largely a fantasy, but if it existed it would presumably be more-or-less immutable, not something you could "convert" to--a leopard can't change its spots and so on, though I suppose there is the concept of "half-breeds".

French and Arab are both ethno-cultural concepts--as President Sarkozy shows, you can convert your ethno-cultural identity (from Hungarian, among other things, to French) by doing things like moving to France, learning to speak French, your children growing up with French as their first language, and self-identifying yourself as "French".

Most of the 400 million "Arabs" don't live in Arabia, and they aren't even necessarily the direct descendants of people who came from Arabia. It's not like the Arab nomads physically wiped out the Egyptians; it's just that Egypt became an Arab-speaking country, the Arab Republic of Egypt. "Racially", modern Egyptians are no doubt descended from the "race" that built the Pyramids (with assorted genetic contributions from the Hyksos, Persians, Macedonians, Arabs, etc.). If Arabic speakers moved to (or invaded) France and persuaded (or forced) the population to switch from speaking French to speaking Arabic, then you could say "France" had ceased to exist. If Arabic speakers move to France and learn to speak French and consider themselves to be Frenchmen, while also continuing to practice Islam, then they're just Frenchmen who happen to be Muslim.

You're right that there's a problem with Muslim immigrants in Europe not wanting to assimilate. This is caused by both sides, and many Muslims no doubt need to change their attitudes, but again, minaret-bashing and similar policies are not the way to do that.

even sven
11-30-2009, 08:21 AM
You're right about Sarkozy and immigration, but French is a racial concept. There are a lot of Americans who are French. Saying French isn't a racial concept is like saying being Arab isn't a racial concept.

Are there no black French people? Because their presence doesn't go back 1,200 years. But I've met tons of people who are black and French and have no claim to anything other than being French.

The idea that there are any clear racial-cultural dividers is one that can only exist when it is actively enforced. Left on our own, we mate, reproduce, speak, work and during the course of the we create our culture based on our understanding of the past and present. That is exactly how France and Switzerland got their cultures to begin with- not by someone sitting down and mandating Swiss culture.

ivan astikov
11-30-2009, 08:26 AM
Ridiculous. In societies like the United States where everyone is free to publicly practice their religions, there is a general harmony between different sects and religions.
Without a link to regular accounts of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Mormons getting down and partying together, I'd be more inclined to define it as an 'uneasy harmony'.


In societies where one religion is officially favored over those of minority groups, you get pogroms and riots (http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2005-10-22-egyptchurches_x.htm) (members of the officially-favored majority feel privileged over the "outsiders", who aren't true [whatevers] no matter how long they've lived there, and the majority religionists occasionally feel entitled to go and beat them up and take their stuff; these feelings are also highly susceptible to manipulation by power-hungry politicians with various agendas). In societies where minority religions are all but banned, like Saudi Arabia, you get simmering tensions, fears of religiously-based "fifth columns", and the occasional riot (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/02/international/middleeast/02shiites.html?pagewanted=print&position=).

Maybe so, but I never said anything about one religion being favoured over another. And do the non-believers not get a say in the matter?

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 08:33 AM
Still, it has dawned on you that I favor protecting an existing culture? Even, as I've pointed out twice, Muslim ones on the middle east. Am I surprised you missed arriving at such a logical conclusion? Not in the least.

It rather seems transparent "protecting existing culture" is really a covering excuse that does not stand up to logical scrutiny.


Maybe this is the best way to explain:

It might be if it were not entirely factually wrong.

Take France. France is a nation, but not just a nation, a people. The French people. They have been a people for at least 1200 years, united by a language, religion(to a lesser extent since the schism), and a culture.

Entirely false.

The French "people" are essentially a 19th century creation. Prior to the 19th century move to centralisation, not only was standard French a minority language (in the south the native tongue is (was) a language closer to Catalan than Paris French), but it is documented that people identified rather less as French than "Picard" or "Gascon" or whatnot. The French sensitivity to language and national unity in culture comes from the very fact that they were NOT unified for 1200 years.

It is also a historical fact that large swaths of Eastern, Northern and Southern France spent much of the past 1400 years under the rule of Sovereigns other than the King in Paris.

But thanks for the opportunity to highlight the fact you're relying on an entirely mythological rather than historical view of the people you're referring to. Useful political mythologies, but have fuck all to do with historical reality.

ruadh
11-30-2009, 08:50 AM
The French constitution suggests otherwise. The very first article makes it clear that there is to be no different treatment on the basis of "origin, race or religion".

You're missing the point. France is a liberal democracy than welcomes immigrants. Of course it will treat them the same, as France should.

No, you're missing the point. That clause in the Constitution is not meant simply to say that there is no discriminatory treatment, but that there is no distinction among French citizens on the basis of their origin. They are all French. That's the essence of the French policy on nationality, as developed through the 19th century centralisation policy that wmfellows refers to above.

It isn't always strictly adhered to, and of course there are right-wingers who take a different view. But this notion you have that "Frenchness" is genetically transmitted and not something that can be acquired is simply false, as is so much else that you have posted.

Monty
11-30-2009, 09:01 AM
I think that to a great extent, nations founded on a concept of a common heritage and common language deserve greater deference when it comes to defending that heritage from outsiders.

South Korean society is touting that same stuff; however, it's not true that Korea was founded on a common heritage or common language. It was founded on a couple of the old kingdoms losing to one of the other old kingdoms. And they were multicultural kingdoms at that. There's still a case to be made that modern South Korea consists of two major language areas: Korean and Jeju.

Captain Amazing
11-30-2009, 09:45 AM
But what nationality is a Walloon (an ethnically French person living in Belgium)? Answer: they're Belgian.

As to that, there are probably some Waloon nationalists who would disagree with you there. They'd say that their nationality is Walloon. The country they live in is Belgium.

even sven
11-30-2009, 10:09 AM
South Korean society is touting that same stuff; however, it's not true that Korea was founded on a common heritage or common language. It was founded on a couple of the old kingdoms losing to one of the other old kingdoms. And they were multicultural kingdoms at that. There's still a case to be made that modern South Korea consists of two major language areas: Korean and Jeju.

And, to further complicate that, China's extreme nationalism- born of both history and modern political aims- has led many Chinese people to claim that all East Asian cultures are basically bastardized Han Chinese culture (which, as a concept of a unified culture, has it's own origins largely created for political goals) and thus Korea is ultimately Chinese.

I've personally met many Chinese who are genuinely baffled as to why Japan and Korea don't want to give the Chinese respect and admiration for so generously sharing The Greatest Culture on Earth with them. Chinese travel guides to Japan and Korea often have rather pointed references explanations about the Chinese origins of traditional dishes, architecture, etc. China is even tentatively starting to claim some Korean historical sites in Korean boundaries as being essentially Chinese and teaching Korean historical events as Chinese history.

Meanwhile, China has to reconcile the idea that their famous 55 minorities are essentially Chinese because of historic territorial claims despite having cultures very different than the construct known as Han Chinese, while also claiming that Chinese influenced cultures that have never been ruled by China are also essentially Chinese. They've essentially managed to use the idea of "cultural heritage" to claim whatever the hell they want.

This is the ridiculous, stupid, and ultimately dangerous stuff when you start trying to claim that any culture has a single essence. If you've got enough power, you can twist pretty much any definition of "culture" to fit your agenda.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 11:00 AM
No country that saw citizenship or even nationality in terms of common heritage exclusively could ever allow immigration in the first place.

Not at all. Even some of the most racist Arab nations allow immigration, but that doesn't mean they'd let say, Indian Hindus take over the United ARAB Emirates.

Note the word "exclusively" in my post. If you are going to allow immigrants to become citizens then, by definition, you do not consider nationality defined as common heritage to be an exclusive definition of nationality.

And who's talking about anyone "taking over" anything? There does not seem to have been any hint of Switzerland's Muslims demanding special recognition for cultural or religious difference.

[db]So you are in a sense saying, "I think the most the most reactionary elements of Europe and of the nations within Europe should be given more deference than the least reactionary ones."

[adahar]Actually I think Europeans deserve more deference to defend what is "European" than Americans do to defend whatever the heck we consider "American". The only thing that is American is our concept of liberty. America is a nation of immigrants. Europe is a continent filled with white people who have lived there for thousands of years, and have been essentially Christian for about 1500 years.

This statement makes no sense at a number of levels. First, "European" is a term that, except as the name of a continent, has only recently developed any kind of identitarian coherence--in the wake of supranational alliances like the European Union.

If you think back on Europe's history I think you'll find that "Europeans" spent centuries, up until the middle of the last one, fighting each other rather than celebrating their common "Europeanness."

If there is any coherence to Europe it's in Enlightenment principles like cosmopolitanism, universalism, and yes, liberty. While religious tolerance within Christian sects had something to do with promoting those Enlightenment values so too did ancient Greek and even some pagan ideas from the pre-modern past. And Europe has never been wholly Christian; in addition to minority religions like Judaism and proximate ones like Islam the thing to bear in mind is that many people in Europe have long been secular.

In fact what's really going on in Europe right now IMO isn't that "Christians" are feeling threatened by Muslims but that a largely secular population feels threatened by religious fundamentalism in the shape of Islam--sometimes for understandable reasons but often not--and therefore feels tempted to revert to particularisms like narrowly defined nationality, race, and sectarian religion as well as by notions of "Europe" as Western, Christian, and white. (As I said in my last post, psychologically what's going on actually has a lot do with economic globalization and the threat it poses to the social democratic way of life that has made Western Europe so prosperous in the postwar era.)

Finally, it's just silly to say that the only unifying thing in American culture is the concept of liberty--if what you mean by that is that Europeans don't value liberty (which of course they do) or that Americans don't have nationalist sentiments (which they do).

Let me ask you something adaher since I assume you are a US citizen. On what do you base your knowledge of Europe? Have you traveled there for any length of time? Worked there? Lived there? Studied the place?


Wouldn't it be an even greater tragedy to lose the culture of Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Descartes, and Beethoven?

And exactly how is that happening right now?

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 11:07 AM
As to that, there are probably some Waloon nationalists who would disagree with you there. They'd say that their nationality is Walloon. The country they live in is Belgium.

Yes Captain Amazing just like there are some in Quebec who prefer not to think of themselves as Canadians. But the great majority ethnically French citizens of Belgian are well aware that they are Belgian nationals and their passports are EU.

Do you not agree?

SecondJudith
11-30-2009, 11:19 AM
538.com's Nate Silver has an analysis of the voting results: Intolerance, European Style (http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/11/intolerance-european-style.html).

For a small country, however, Switzerland is also fairly diverse, and this is where things get interesting. If we break the results of the referendum down by canton (province) and compare them against the number of nonreligious people in that region, we find a fairly strong relationship. The more religious the region, the more likely it was to support the ban.

jjimm
11-30-2009, 11:24 AM
As to that, there are probably some Waloon nationalists who would disagree with you there. They'd say that their nationality is Walloon. The country they live in is Belgium.I concede this.

Same point, mind you - they ain't French.

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 11:37 AM
I seem to recall a city ordinance in Santa Fe, New Mexico that stipulates buildings must at least look like adobe, to conform with the local heritage. It doesn't specifically ban other types of buildings, just says buildings must look like this. This is the closest I can come to anything like this ban the Swiss have voted. Could the Swiss ban be construed as sort of the same thing? Minarets not part of Swiss heritage? Although I recall a lot of buildings from my time in Switzerland that did not look like chalets and such.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 12:09 PM
I seem to recall a city ordinance in Santa Fe, New Mexico that stipulates buildings must at least look like adobe, to conform with the local heritage. It doesn't specifically ban other types of buildings, just says buildings must look like this. This is the closest I can come to anything like this ban the Swiss have voted. Could the Swiss ban be construed as sort of the same thing? Minarets not part of Swiss heritage? Although I recall a lot of buildings from my time in Switzerland that did not look like chalets and such.

Doesn't your own description show that it isn't the same thing?

Tamerlane
11-30-2009, 12:32 PM
Maybe this is the best way to explain:

Take France. France is a nation, but not just a nation, a people. The French people. They have been a people for at least 1200 years, united by a language, religion(to a lesser extent since the schism), and a culture.

wmfellows beat me to this, almost word for word really. But just to reiterate the point, this is completely and utterly wrong. Nationalism is very young, younger than the United States to some extent. Just ask the folks in Alsace about how they were "united" to France by a common language and culture ;).

By the way, Xotan, Switzerland is not "basically Protestant." There are more Catholic Swiss than Protestants by a small margin. It is fact one of the most evenly divided countries in Europe in that respect.

Freudian Slit
11-30-2009, 12:42 PM
And the United States in 1920 was free to tell its Jews not to build synagogues with Hebrew letters on the side?

I'm curious about this, too. Or is the U.S. considered different because of the whole separation of church and state thing?

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 01:00 PM
Doesn't your own description show that it isn't the same thing?

Yes, but you know what I mean. One's a passive ban, the other active, but the Santa Fe ordinance still effectively keeps other styles out.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 01:07 PM
Yes, but you know what I mean. One's a passive ban, the other active, but the Santa Fe ordinance still effectively keeps other styles out.

But a minaret isn't a style--it's a religious structure associated with one religion only. Whereas a style ban applies to all kinds of buildings equally. So that presumably a minaret that conformed to the Santa Fe aesthetic (easy enough to imagine) would not be banned.

No?

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 01:09 PM
I know it's not a perfect match. I was just wondering if the Swiss could have phrased it in a similar way.

As I said, this is the closest I can think of that's even remotely similar.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 01:18 PM
I know it's not a perfect match. I was just wondering if the Swiss could have phrased it in a similar way.

As I said, this is the closest I can think of that's even remotely similar.

But it isn't remotely similar because the Swiss minaret ban is offensive to Muslims all over the world and prejudicial to Muslim citizens of Switzerland. Whereas the Santa Fe ban is offensive to no one and prejudicial to no person or religion because it applies equally to anyone and anything.

These architectural arguments have now been debunked on several grounds: Swiss architecture isn't uniform to begin with and the number of minarets, existing and planned, was very small.

So why grant the Swiss decision this architectural fig leaf?

It's a regrettable--naked--case of Islamophobia pure and simple. And if, as was suggested earlier, the SPP used an aesthetic or architectural argument to gussy up their position in more respectable garb they haven't really fooled anyone, have they?

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 01:27 PM
Hey, I was just askin'. Perhaps they could have worded it a bit better.

Superfluous Parentheses
11-30-2009, 01:28 PM
But it isn't remotely similar because the Swiss minaret ban is offensive to Muslims all over the world and prejudicial to Muslim citizens of Switzerland.
I don't give a damn if it's offensive to Muslims. Lots of things are offensive to them.

Agreed with everything else, though.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 01:32 PM
Hey, I was just askin'. Perhaps they could have worded it a bit better.

Sure, hope I didn't sound unkind--I didn't intend to. Just posting in haste.

I'm not sure why you assume that they wanted to word it "a bit better." That is, perhaps the point was to be offensive and prejudicial?

Superfluous, do you think there's no justification for the offense in this case?

Indistinguishable
11-30-2009, 01:32 PM
Now when it comes to other cultures, those of us who consider ourselves progressive often lament how they disappear or get assimilated into more modern cultures.
Sure. But I generally don't. See below.

[quote]Wouldn't it be an even greater tragedy to lose the culture of Galileo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Descartes, and Beethoven?
Even if there were a risk of this doomsday scenario happening...

What would be so bad if the people living a century from now in the area currently known as France were, in their time, to call it something else, to eat foods and listen to music and speak languages all derived from the customs currently prevalent in areas of the world other than France (or even entirely anew)? As long as no one's being coerced by threat of law or violence into doing things they don't want to do or abstaining from peaceful things they do want to, things seem peachy to me. (And vice versa: once people's liberties to act how they like (drawing or not from whatever influences they like) start being suppressed, then things stop being peachy)

If the people living in continental Europe a century from now generally don't care for Beethoven's music at all, fine by me. People's aesthetic tastes are not a moral matter, nor one that calls for regulation by law. Live and let live.

ruadh
11-30-2009, 01:36 PM
And if, as was suggested earlier, the SPP used an aesthetic or architectural argument to gussy up their position in more respectable garb

Did they? Everything I've read on this subject seems to indicate that they made no attempt whatsoever to pretend it was an aesthetic or architectural argument. They seem to have made no bones about the fact that it was entirely about suppressing Islam.

It only seems to be (certain) Dopers suggesting that there was a more benign motive involved.

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 01:37 PM
I'm not sure why you assume that they wanted to word it "a bit better." That is, perhaps the point was to be offensive and prejudicial?

I didn't say they WANTED to word it a bit better. I said maybe they COULD HAVE worded it a bit better. I have no idea if they meant to be offensive, but if they didn't, I suspect they could have been a bit less like a bull in a china shop.

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 01:41 PM
Did they? Everything I've read on this subject seems to indicate that they made no attempt whatsoever to pretend it was an aesthetic or architectural argument. They seem to have made no bones about the fact that it was entirely about suppressing Islam.

It only seems to be (certain) Dopers suggesting that there was a more benign motive involved.

I guess that would be me. This is getting out of hand. I was simply trying to think of the closest example I could think of, which was the Santa Fe ordinance. Possibly people are reading more into my comments than as intended.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 01:42 PM
I didn't say they WANTED to word it a bit better. I said maybe they COULD HAVE worded it a bit better. I have no idea if they meant to be offensive, but if they didn't, I suspect they could have been a bit less like a bull in a china shop.

Right, but I think those who promoted this measure wanted to be offensive bulls in the china shop. Have you seen the posters used in this campaign that were linked to various posts above?

Moreover, mere wording can't disguise prejudice.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 01:49 PM
Did they? Everything I've read on this subject seems to indicate that they made no attempt whatsoever to pretend it was an aesthetic or architectural argument. They seem to have made no bones about the fact that it was entirely about suppressing Islam.

It only seems to be (certain) Dopers suggesting that there was a more benign motive involved.

Well if you look over Švejk's posts back on page 2 he (she?) was saying that they were deliberately trying to pursue some kind of technical argument that what was being banned was a building rather than a religion or religious practice in order to mask incursion of state into religious matters. (This entirely from memory so you might want to review the posts themselves.) I myself have no knowledge any strategy beyond what's in the articles linked to and a couple of more recent ones.

Superfluous Parentheses
11-30-2009, 01:49 PM
Superfluous, do you think there's no justification for the offense in this case?
Yeah I do, but offense on its own shouldn't be a reason to agree or disagree with a law. I don't agree with this law because it serves no other purpose except preventing mosks from being clearly visible. On the opposite side, in my country we've still got blasphemy laws on the books, which are only about preventing offense. Neither is useful and both are bigoted, in my opinion.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 02:07 PM
Say what you will about the American political system, but it takes this point to heart (at the federal level) - there are major checks on the majority will, implemented precisely to protect minority rights.

A potential check on the majority will is described in this (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jSvKwQU-w3j6Gp8PWHRzV2hnh54QD9CA0T403) article.

Superfluous Parentheses
11-30-2009, 02:09 PM
If these people were really serious about the threat of Islamism in their country - which if it's anything like over here in the Netherlands, is hysterically overstated - they wouldn't pick such a stupid policy. There's plenty of stuff wrong with Islam, but you're not going to do anything about it by banning a bunch of towers. I have the same sort of problem with my native Geert Wilders and his stupid grandstanding.

Let them have their towers, but attack the bullshit. But ofcourse you can't legislate against bullshit. You need actual arguments to fight it, and you need to have public arguments to have any effect. Preventing people from displaying their beliefs is not a good way to act when you want them to change their opinions. Of course, if your actual goal is to make people feel so unwelcome they'll leave the country "voluntarily" this would be only the first step. Stay tuned for more news from happy multicultural Europe!

magellan01
11-30-2009, 02:15 PM
It rather seems transparent "protecting existing culture" is really a covering excuse that does not stand up to logical scrutiny.

Does to.

Indistinguishable
11-30-2009, 02:19 PM
Cultures have no moral claim to protection. It's individual's liberties which carry that moral warrant. If "protecting existing culture" comes at cost to the latter, then "protecting existing culture" is a stupid and immoral thing to do, just as legislating that Americans can listen to jazz but not mariachi would be a stupid and immoral thing to do.

Indistinguishable
11-30-2009, 02:26 PM
Let me reword that last line, which got caught up in editing: "...just as legislating that Americans be forced to publicly prefer jazz to mariachi would be a stupid and immoral thing to do."

YogSothoth
11-30-2009, 02:32 PM
Wow that sucks. I love minarets, they look awesome.

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 02:39 PM
Does to.

Really, pray tell what logical train of thought unrelated to mere religious and ethnic bigotry supports banning minarets?

Churches already have steeples.

If one is thinking of keeping the supposed story book image re architecture one can rather merely require religious buildings have steeples in keeping with the surrounding architecture. Rather simple and without the fundamental bigotry of banning minarets. The minaret will then look like a steeple, except perhaps with a crescent.

If one is thinking of keeping an architectural heritage, then ... well a similar rule (applied equally) is of similar ease and efficaciousness.

There is no logical "cultural protection" aspect here that does not involve simple racism and religious bigotry. Simple and primitive tribalism of religious bigotry. Cultural protection? Ban the Brown Hordes eh? (except of course the Turks and Bosniacs are white, but...); this kind of fear-mongering already happened in Europe relative to the "unassimilatable Jews" - the hook nosed hordes. The language and efforts bear a striking resemblance. Europe does not need this again.

Malthus
11-30-2009, 02:43 PM
A potential check on the majority will is described in this (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jSvKwQU-w3j6Gp8PWHRzV2hnh54QD9CA0T403) article.


Good thing too - direct democracy on minority rights without constitution-like protections makes as much sense as an untrammeled vote by three wolves and two sheep on what's for dinner tonight.

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 02:46 PM
Cultures have no moral claim to protection. It's individual's liberties which carry that moral warrant. If "protecting existing culture" comes at cost to the latter, then "protecting existing culture" is a stupid and immoral thing to do, just as legislating that Americans can listen to jazz but not mariachi would be a stupid and immoral thing to do.

Quite, and indeed "protecting a culture" in this fashion (versus say simply supporting language education as in Quebec, etc [ahem well not so simple but...]) is almost invariably merely an attempt a palatable gloss on gross bigotry

Added re my own thought:
If one is thinking of keeping the supposed story book image re architecture one can rather merely require religious buildings have steeples in keeping with the surrounding architecture. Rather simple and without the fundamental bigotry of banning minarets. The minaret will then look like a steeple, except perhaps with a crescent.
This by the way would strike me as a far more coherent measure (even given that much of Swiss urban development ain't the tourist picture book view.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 02:55 PM
Without a link to regular accounts of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Mormons getting down and partying together, I'd be more inclined to define it as an 'uneasy harmony'.
But if we'd just eliminate this pesky "religious freedom" business, everyone would live together in peace and harmony! No way could that backfire!
Maybe so, but I never said anything about one religion being favoured over another.
What you said was:
Can someone remind me why anywhere should, bearing in mind the amount of conflict it has caused since its invention?
In reference to the idea of "religious freedom".
And do the non-believers not get a say in the matter?
Non-believers of course should be as protected as believers. But we should no more get to infringe on the rights of religious believers than they should get to infringe on ours.

Gymnopithys
11-30-2009, 03:01 PM
Ralph124c : "Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built."

Talk about building churches in Islamic countries… In one Islamic country they destroyed the Buddhist monuments of Bamyan.

Also :"Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey". (Wikipedia).

In Switzerland Islamists can build any number of mosques as they wish. And they don’t have to match the surrounding style.

An Gadaě : "A friend of mine lives in Switzerland and from what he's told me it doesn't surprise me that such a ban came into place. It seems (from the outside) like perhaps the most xenophobic country in Western Europe."

Really ? 20 % of the Swiss population are immigrants : 1’200'000 (400'000 of them Islamists) for a population of 7 million. In the U.S. immigrants are less than 15%, in U.K 10%.
http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/06/11/why-is-switzerland-the-worlds-most-immigrant-friendly-country/

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 03:08 PM
Quite, and indeed "protecting a culture" in this fashion (versus say simply supporting language education as in Quebec, etc [ahem well not so simple but...]) is almost invariably merely an attempt a palatable gloss on gross bigotry

Yes, wmfellows, the case in Quebec isn't simple as you clearly realize; and some of its most eloquent defenders (Charles Taylor, for example) have described Quebec in terms precisely of a right to cultural recognition. But whatever one thinks of Taylor's arguments (I mainly don't like them), the relevant point is that the culture in question in the Canadian debates is a minority culture.

Although I tend to agree with indistinguishable (as against Taylor I guess) that there isn't and shouldn't be any moral right to preserving culture, what's demonstrably indefensible--and yes, undemocratic and illiberal--about magellan01's position is that the culture he wants to preserve is the majority culture; and he specifically wants to preserve it at the expense of a minority culture.

I do think it can be defensible for states to promote culture in some restricted forms (as when there is public support for museums and educational or artistic cultural events). But there is a long and venerable history of states doing so (in Europe as well as the US) to promote cultural diversity not cultural reactionariness.

The more proximate case probably isn't Quebec but the French effort to keep French culture alive as against the globalization of American popular culture and, more recently, immigrant cultures. That is a complicated terrain and other posters have already alluded to the issue of the French ban on veils.

Deeg
11-30-2009, 03:17 PM
At first I thought the ban was inarguably wrong but after reading a few responses I've backed off. For me it depends on why they've instituted the ban. Switzerland makes much (most?) of it's money from tourism and it's possible that Switzerland is trying to protect its tourist industry. For example, I wouldn't blame them at all for banning, say, yellow neon McDonalds signs.

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 03:30 PM
At first I thought the ban was inarguably wrong but after reading a few responses I've backed off. For me it depends on why they've instituted the ban. Switzerland makes much (most?) of it's money from tourism and it's possible that Switzerland is trying to protect its tourist industry. For example, I wouldn't blame them at all for banning, say, yellow neon McDonalds signs.

Well, in fact you can find the finest Ugly McD signs you could want and other horrors of late 20th century architecture - commercial or sub-urban in Switzerland - it's not all twee little fucking villages mate. And one need not ban minarets to achieve a Swiss Image result. One can easily simply impose architectural conformity. Minarets can easily look like church steeples for the sake of a bloody fuck.

Yes, wmfellows, the case in Quebec isn't simple as you clearly realize;
Yeah, I was trying to simplify... Been a long time since I lived there, bloody ages.

Ralph124c : "Ask me when ANY muslim country allows Christian churches to be built."

Talk about building churches in Islamic countries… In one Islamic country they destroyed the Buddhist monuments of Bamyan.

As I see by your numbers, a Swisser joins us.

Eh, well, but several persons have already cited a goodly number of highly populous Muslim countries that allow in a non-theoretical sense churches to be built.

Shall we cite Hindus destroyed churches and mosques to complete the picture?

Also :"Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey". (Wikipedia).


Eh.

Hagia Sophia was the symbol of imperial power, and the Ottomans converted into theirs. They also left a Christians free to have the majority power. Anyway citing incidents from 800 odd years ago seems rather unenlightening for modern states (in particular cherry picked ones).

Shall we also cite the contemporaneous expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Catholic Iberia and the conversion and destruction of mosques and synagogues there to complete a picture of the universality of human bigotry?


In Switzerland Islamists can build any number of mosques as they wish. And they don’t have to match the surrounding style.


Islamists = Muslims.

Interesting. Rather reflects the kind of thinking that lead to vote.

An Gadaě : "A friend of mine lives in Switzerland and from what he's told me it doesn't surprise me that such a ban came into place. It seems (from the outside) like perhaps the most xenophobic country in Western Europe."

Really ? 20 % of the Swiss population are immigrants : 1’200'000 (400'000 of them Islamists) for a population of 7 million. In the U.S. immigrants are less than 15%, in U.K 10%.
http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/06/11/why-is-switzerland-the-worlds-most-immigrant-friendly-country/

I think I'd stick with An Gadai's evaluation (noting your use of the prejudicial term Islamist for Muslim - and I know bloody well that in French and German it carries the same bloody spin versus Muslim).

Inbred Mm domesticus
11-30-2009, 03:38 PM
At first I thought the ban was inarguably wrong but after reading a few responses I've backed off. For me it depends on why they've instituted the ban. Switzerland makes much (most?) of it's money from tourism and it's possible that Switzerland is trying to protect its tourist industry. For example, I wouldn't blame them at all for banning, say, yellow neon McDonalds signs.

Why they've instituted a ban? I find it very hard to believe that it is difficult to recognize this for what it is: bigotry and bullying. Any story on this subject shows some of the campaign posters or describes the ones that were banned. They clearly demonstrate their intention. The right wing in these countries wants to whip up fear of muslims and immigrants for their political gain.

In that regard, this act is no different from cartoons in Denmark, silly movies in Holland, or headscarf bans in France. These acts all share a common underlying bigotry and can be disguised in the form of "protecting" the populace from the evils of a Taliban controlled Afghanistan (as a poster implied above). The simple act of equating Turks and Bosnians with politcal Islam is a clear declaration of the prejudice behind their referendum

Ludovic
11-30-2009, 03:42 PM
I think I'd stick with An Gadai's evaluation (noting your use of the prejudicial term Islamist for Muslim - and I know bloody well that in French and German it carries the same bloody spin versus Muslim).

Not only prejudicial but incorrect. I'd be surprised if there were 400,000 Islamists among the 1,200,000 immigrants, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10,000 or more. Islamists are those who believe that there should be an official, supreme, role for Islam in the political system, and that sense of the word is the one which I (a previous poster) was referring to when I used that word.

I certainly did not mean to imply that every Muslim in western Europe was an Islamist (as the post you reply to seems to,) but they are a not insignificant portion of the Islamic population.

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 03:50 PM
Not only prejudicial but incorrect. I'd be surprised if there were 400,000 Islamists among the 1,200,000 immigrants, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10,000 or more. Islamists are those who believe that there should be an official, supreme, role for Islam in the political system, and that sense of the word is the one which I (a previous poster) was referring to when I used that word.

I certainly did not mean to imply that every Muslim in western Europe was an Islamist (as the post you reply to seems to,) but they are a not insignificant portion of the Islamic population.

I was referring to the Swiss poster (if I recognise the number usage right), not the general usage - and also I wanted to call bullshit on a probable backtrack on language.

However, it is highly revealing using the prejudicial term Islamist versus something neutral (in particular in context).

The simple act of equating Turks and Bosnians with politcal Islam is a clear declaration of the prejudice behind their referendum

That is why I referenced the language used to talk about Jews in Europe before WWII. This is a disturbing echo, in a non-superficial sense, of the Jewish experience. The language, the measures, the using of a highly visible minority within the religious minority that is ostentasiously not assimilated (like the Hasids for example)... Europe doesn't need to repeat that history.

Švejk
11-30-2009, 03:52 PM
In that regard, this act is no different from cartoons in Denmark, silly movies in Holland, or headscarf bans in France. These acts all share a common underlying bigotry and can be disguised in the form of "protecting" the populace from the evils of a Taliban controlled Afghanistan (as a poster implied above). The simple act of equating Turks and Bosnians with politcal Islam is a clear declaration of the prejudice behind their referendum

I'm not sure why you lump the Danish cartoons in with Wilders and the SPP. They were just cartoons, they didn't argue that all Muslims are terrorists or something. Just because it offended people does not make it bigotry.

ETA: in point of fact, when Wilders included one of the Danish cartoons in his film Fitna, the cartoonist protested and he had to take them out.

Gymnopithys
11-30-2009, 04:16 PM
...I think I'd stick with An Gadai's evaluation (noting your use of the prejudicial term Islamist for Muslim - and I know bloody well that in French and German it carries the same bloody spin versus Muslim).

I meant Muslims. Sorry.

Gymnopithys
11-30-2009, 04:37 PM
Ludovic: "I'd be surprised if there were 400,000 Islamists among the 1,200,000 immigrants, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were 10,000 or more."

Right. Estimate of 400'000 which I have seen today seems much too high.

Another source:
"According to these sources, the number of Muslims in Switzerland is currently estimated between 200,000 and 250,000 people (from 2.8 to 3.5% of the resident population)."
http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/religion/islam.html

magellan01
11-30-2009, 05:01 PM
Really, pray tell what logical train of thought unrelated to mere religious and ethnic bigotry supports banning minarets?

I provided rationale. Try rereading the thread. You're the one who simply waved his hand and declared that there was no reasonable basis.

Lochdale
11-30-2009, 05:08 PM
Personally I think it is a gross over-reaction to the very serious issue of immigration. That is, there hasn't been any real debate as to the sheer volume of immigration into Western Europe from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle-East. Any proper discussion usually descends into claims of racism, facism etc. etc. As such, the vacumn is filled with referendums like this and eventually I think with extreme candidates getting serious support amongst the elctorate.

I'm opposed to the referendum but absolutely understand the sense of frustration felt by a great number of people with immigration.

Long term, however, referendums like this don't help anyone.

Der Trihs
11-30-2009, 05:13 PM
I provided rationale. Try rereading the thread. You're the one who simply waved his hand and declared that there was no reasonable basis.And there isn't one. The "rationale" you presented is a joke. And irrelevant, since regardless of what excuse you try to manufacture, the actual motive here was pretty much naked religious and racial bigotry.

Švejk
11-30-2009, 05:27 PM
I'm opposed to the referendum but absolutely understand the sense of frustration felt by a great number of people with immigration.

Could you expand on this? What are people frustrated with and how is that justified?

SteveG1
11-30-2009, 05:31 PM
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!

Sounds like a standard political ploy to garner votes and support - all in the name of freedom probably :rolleyes:

Deeg
11-30-2009, 05:59 PM
Why they've instituted a ban? I find it very hard to believe that it is difficult to recognize this for what it is: bigotry and bullying.
I don't deny that bigotry could be the main reason (indeed, that was my first reaction) but they haven't (to my knowledge) banned mosques and Muslim worship. I'm against the ban but I think it's possible that its stupidity is less nefarious than I originally thought.

Der Trihs
11-30-2009, 06:21 PM
I don't deny that bigotry could be the main reason (indeed, that was my first reaction) but they haven't (to my knowledge) banned mosques and Muslim worship. It's called banning what you can, instead of what you want. Just like the anti-gay types in America support bans on same sex marriage, instead of trying to pass laws for the extermination of gays like they support elsewhere ( Uganda's new gay extermination laws, for example; and yes, there's serious American support for that ).

In America, the right wingers can pass laws banning SSM; they can't pass laws calling for gays to be rounded up and murdered. So they go for the former, while wishing for the latter. In Switzerland, they can pass laws banning minarets, but not laws expelling or killing Muslims, so laws banning minarets are what they pass.

Dorothea Book
11-30-2009, 06:23 PM
I don't deny that bigotry could be the main reason (indeed, that was my first reaction) but they haven't (to my knowledge) banned mosques and Muslim worship. I'm against the ban but I think it's possible that its stupidity is less nefarious than I originally thought.

Well thank goodness it is less stupid and nefarious than the outright ban on mosques and Muslim worship you had assumed (which would probably have had led to people rioting in the streets).

But are you really content to tolerate just a small amount of nefariousness on the grounds that a larger dose would be even worse?

wmfellows
11-30-2009, 06:35 PM
I provided rationale. Try rereading the thread. You're the one who simply waved his hand and declared that there was no reasonable basis.

Really?

It is hard to see from your rather short notes.

The best I can come up with is this

I think there are two reasons for this. One, is purely aesthetic. Switzerland wants to preserve the look and feel that helps define it. Nothing wrong with that. The other thing is the greater numbers of Muslims and how they may change the culture beyond architecture. And I see nothing wrong with that either. The same way I'd see nothing wrong with a city in the middle east or asia wanting to preserve what culturally defines it.

I still don't get why one shouldn't expect to conform to the new society they've moved to. ::shrug::

On this we have already found the aesthetic argument ... well unfounded and illogical on its face.

The underlying argument, which remains as an argument really profoundly bigoted, seems to be in the bolded part - that is the Muslims are Aliens, Icky People and thus White People should kick them out. But for those who are unwilling to go the full fascist route, rather than merely banning "the wrong ethnicities" from immigration (as it would be a clear violation of international human right standards, and modern liberal democracy), as a grotesque substitute, we should suppress their visible culture. It fairly stinks of the route that too many European nations took from 1900 forward to prior alien religious minority.

Now if you have actually presented anything like a logical argument, then feel free free to clearly and logically state it. Else, I feel one has an ample understanding of the real, if politely disguised rational.

Anyway, I will say it again, we Europeans don't need to do this again.

DanBlather
11-30-2009, 07:00 PM
I would think Muslims would welcome the ban. It means that western Europe is adopting the values of Islamic countries. I hope that an Islamic country will publish a cartoon about it, then the Swiss can riot in the streets and threaten Muslims with death.

Deeg
11-30-2009, 07:21 PM
Well thank goodness it is less stupid and nefarious than the outright ban on mosques and Muslim worship you had assumed (which would probably have had led to people rioting in the streets).

But are you really content to tolerate just a small amount of nefariousness on the grounds that a larger dose would be even worse?
If they have similar conformity laws in other areas (and I believe they do), yes. Preserving the tourist appeal of Switzerland is a valid concern and while I think banning minuets is dumb I'm willing to tolerate it. For example, not too far from me in Hingham, Massachusetts, there are some neighborhoods that ban non-white Christmas lights (usually candles) to preserve the "character" of their neighborhoods. It's dumb but it's not a result of bigotry.

MEBuckner
11-30-2009, 07:40 PM
If they have similar conformity laws in other areas (and I believe they do), yes. Preserving the tourist appeal of Switzerland is a valid concern and while I think banning minuets is dumb I'm willing to tolerate it. For example, not too far from me in Hingham, Massachusetts, there are some neighborhoods that ban non-white Christmas lights (usually candles) to preserve the "character" of their neighborhoods. It's dumb but it's not a result of bigotry.
As elmwood pointed out here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=11829972#post11829972) and here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=11830660#post11830660), Switzerland already has plenty of 21st Century architectural diversity (including tacky commercial clutter). To repeat what I said: Switzerland is not a theme park.

And here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Moschee_Wangen_bei_Olten_cropped.jpg) is one of these nefarious minarets the Swiss just voted to ban construction of. I'm no expert on architecture or Swiss culture, but that looks a whole lot more "Swiss" to me than this (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mckroes/3308974569/).

Švejk
11-30-2009, 07:43 PM
Deeg, you are way, way out of your element. First of all, a minuet is a piece of music; we're talking about minarets. Secondly: go back to some of the earlier posts in this thread - ETA: helpfully collected above by MEBuckner - where the suggestion that this is about tourism or architecture is discarded. For your reading pleasure, here's the reaction of the Swiss People's Party, currently the largest party in Switzerland and one of the main promoters of this referendum

The result clearly indicates how great the discomfort of the voting citizens with the creeping Islamisation of the country is
[link; translation mine (http://www.udc.ch/g3.cms/s_page/80730/s_name/newsschlagzeile/newsContractor_id/0/newsID/1581/newsContractor_year/2009)]

Also, note that the organization that collected the signatures needed to have a referendum initially wanted to have a broader referendum in which the question would be whether or not to outlaw forced marriage, personal vendetta justice, the failure to acknowledge the state's monopoly on violence as well as avoidance of school, esp. by girls[link; translation mine (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontroverse_um_den_Bau_von_Minaretten_in_der_Schweiz#Eidgen.C3.B6ssische_Volksinitiative_.C2.ABGegen _den_Bau_von_Minaretten.C2.BB)]

The reason they did not go through with this is that the institution in Switzerland that approves referendum questions and tests them for constitutionality would not have it, so they thought better of it. So reading this, do you still think this is about making Switzerland safe for tourism?

Monty
11-30-2009, 08:07 PM
I don't give a damn if it's offensive to Muslims. Lots of things are offensive to them.

That's a strange attitude towards someone's reaction to being denied their constitutional rights. Speaking of which, one may find an English version of the Swiss constitution here (http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sz00000_.html). Some fun articles which I think apply to this particular issue:

Article 8 Equality
(1) All humans are equal before the law.
(2) Nobody may be discriminated against, namely for his or her origin, race, sex, age, language, social position, way of life, religious, philosophical, or political convictions, or because of a corporal or mental disability.
(3) Men and women have equal rights. The law provides for legal and factual equality, particularly in the family, during education, and at the workplace. Men and women have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
(4) The law provides for measures to eliminate disadvantages of disabled people.

Article 9 Protection Against Arbitrariness and Preservation of Good Faith
Every person has the right to be treated by state institutions without arbitrariness and in good faith.

Article 15 Freedom of Faith and Conscience
(1) The freedom of faith and conscience is guaranteed.
(2) Every person has the right to freely choose his or her religion or non-denominational belief and to profess them alone or in community with others.
(3) Every person has the right to join or belong to a religious community and to receive religious education.
(4) No person may be forced to join a religious community, to conduct a religious act or participate in religious education.

Article 25 Protection Against Expulsion, Extradition, and Removal by Force
(1) Swiss citizens may not be expelled from the country; they may be extradited to a foreign authority only with their consent.
(2) Refugees may not be removed by force or extradited to a state in which they are persecuted.
(3) Nobody may be removed by force to a state where he or she is threatened by torture or other means of cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment.

Monty
11-30-2009, 08:08 PM
There is a Catholic Church (new building) in Doha, Qatar. Opened last year.

As well as quite a few churches in Indonesia.

Malaysia is predominately Muslim also; however, there are houses of worship for other faiths there. There's a nice Hindu temple near the train station in Johor Bahru.

Captain Amazing
11-30-2009, 09:44 PM
Yes Captain Amazing just like there are some in Quebec who prefer not to think of themselves as Canadians. But the great majority ethnically French citizens of Belgian are well aware that they are Belgian nationals and their passports are EU.

They're Belgian citizens, certainly. You're right though that there's more of a Flemish national identity than a Walloon national identity.

ShibbOleth
11-30-2009, 09:53 PM
You do realise that some of them haven't moved to any new society, don't you? Not all Muslims in Switzerland are immigrants.

Most of them are; it's not as if Switzerland has a long and rich Islamic tradition. They have several "official" religions and all of them are Christian. Not every country feels the need to be the United States.

Sure, the vote has at least the seeds of xenophobia, but it's hardly surprising. A Swiss friend of mine seemed proud to tell me that women only got the right to vote in St. Gallen, one of the most conservative cantons, in the 1970s.

Siam Sam
11-30-2009, 11:00 PM
Malaysia is predominately Muslim also; however, there are houses of worship for other faiths there. There's a nice Hindu temple near the train station in Johor Bahru.

And don't forget the beautiful Christ Church (http://indolaysia.typepad.com/photos/melaka/100_1197.html) in Melaka, dating back to the Dutch days.

Lochdale
12-01-2009, 01:01 AM
Could you expand on this? What are people frustrated with and how is that justified?

I'm not Swiss so I cannot speak for them but there is a feeling in Europe that there have been too many immigrants from the Middle East and Africa coming in great numbers in a short period of time. It's very difficult to openly debate the issue without being called a racist etc. A lot of people are asking, however, how many are too many? 1, 1,000 100 million? The numbers are not insignificant and it behooves us to ask why so many choose such small countries such as Holland and Switzerland. I feel it's a very legitimate frustration as, for example, there have been clear abuses of the asylum system which was never meant to handle the sheer volume of immigrats who have taken advantage of the system.

ruadh
12-01-2009, 01:55 AM
I'm opposed to the referendum but absolutely understand the sense of frustration felt by a great number of people with immigration.

Aren't you an immigrant?

ruadh
12-01-2009, 01:59 AM
Most of them are; it's not as if Switzerland has a long and rich Islamic tradition.

Sure, most of them are, but according to this page (http://www.eurel.info/EN/index.php?RuBintialeSS=Religions%20and%20society&intrubrique=Religious%20minorities&pais=23&rubrique=387&nompais=Switzerland) nearly one-third of all Muslims in Switzerland were born there. That is a substantial percentage, and means that this has to be addressed as something other than an issue of immigrants being obliged to adapt to the country they move to. Which magellan01 has repeatedly refused to do.

ruadh
12-01-2009, 02:23 AM
I'm not Swiss so I cannot speak for them but there is a feeling in Europe that there have been too many immigrants from the Middle East and Africa coming in great numbers in a short period of time. It's very difficult to openly debate the issue without being called a racist etc. A lot of people are asking, however, how many are too many? 1, 1,000 100 million? The numbers are not insignificant and it behooves us to ask why so many choose such small countries such as Holland and Switzerland.

According to the page I linked to above, only 5.6% of Muslims in Switzerland are from Arab countries (either the Middle East or Africa). More than half are from the Balkans.

Captain Amazing
12-01-2009, 02:44 AM
Sure, most of them are, but according to this page (http://www.eurel.info/EN/index.php?RuBintialeSS=Religions%20and%20society&intrubrique=Religious%20minorities&pais=23&rubrique=387&nompais=Switzerland) nearly one-third of all Muslims in Switzerland were born there.

Right, but even in those cases, most of the Muslims who were born there are children of immigrants. Islam is a foreign religion that's only come to Switzerland recently. It's not a traditional Swiss religion the way that Catholicism, Calvinism or Judaism are. It's practiced by Turks, Bosnians, and Albanians who live in Switzerland, not the Swiss itself.

ruadh
12-01-2009, 02:53 AM
Right, but even in those cases, most of the Muslims who were born there are children of immigrants. Islam is a foreign religion that's only come to Switzerland recently. It's not a traditional Swiss religion the way that Catholicism, Calvinism or Judaism are. It's practiced by Turks, Bosnians, and Albanians who live in Switzerland, not the Swiss itself.

That's probably generally true, although the percentage of conversions is not clear. There are bound to be some; certainly here in Ireland there are a surprising number of Irish converts among the Muslim community.

But in any case, that's not the point. These are people who were born and raised in Switzerland. They did not "go to live in another country", as was being argued in the posts I was responding to.

even sven
12-01-2009, 03:16 AM
Right, but even in those cases, most of the Muslims who were born there are children of immigrants. Islam is a foreign religion that's only come to Switzerland recently. It's not a traditional Swiss religion the way that Catholicism, Calvinism or Judaism are. It's practiced by Turks, Bosnians, and Albanians who live in Switzerland, not the Swiss itself.

Amazing! I never knew Christianity came from Switzerland! I always thought it came from the Middle East. As for Judaism- don't you remember that for most of history Europe has derided Jews as practicing an alien middle-eastern religion?

Lochdale
12-01-2009, 03:20 AM
Aren't you an immigrant?

I am. A legal immigrant. I never claimed asylum, never worked illegally etc. And so what? This means I have to be mute on this issue?

Muslims make up a non insignifcant portio of the Swiss population, how does the current figure compare with say the figure in 1970? Further, I noted in my first post that Eastern European immigration was just as big of an issue.

Switzerland is a small country with finite resources. It really doesn't have the labour needs for a mass of low to unskilled workers that it has attracted. Instead, there is a sense that it is being exploited for it's high standards of living and benefits to immigrants. Without free and open discussion about this issue (and potentially a moratorium on immigration), then I think these sort of reactions are going to become more common.

Nava
12-01-2009, 03:31 AM
An Gadaě : "A friend of mine lives in Switzerland and from what he's told me it doesn't surprise me that such a ban came into place. It seems (from the outside) like perhaps the most xenophobic country in Western Europe."

Really ? 20 % of the Swiss population are immigrants : 1’200'000 (400'000 of them Islamists) for a population of 7 million. In the U.S. immigrants are less than 15%, in U.K 10%.
http://www.willwilkinson.net/flybottle/2008/06/11/why-is-switzerland-the-worlds-most-immigrant-friendly-country/

And 30% of the people working in Switzerland are foreigners. But you are not welcome to become a national and immigrants or, worse, halfbreeds get insulted left and right. One of my coworkers in Basel was the son of a Swiss mother and Hungarian father; people kept asking him with a snerk "what's this lastname, Portuguese?" "*sigh* no, Hungarian, my father was from Hungary" "oh, so you're Hungarian!" "no, I'm Swiss, I was born in Switzerland and my mother is Swiss" "but you can't be Swiss, your name is Hungarian, you're Hungarian!"

One day. And the next. And the next. For all ten months I spent there. The bosses would join in on "the fun." Those of us with even more "exotic" provenances would try to intervene the first few times we saw it but learn very fast that it accomplished nothing. Whenever a new foreigner joined the team, the bashing would take place in English - it was the only time the Germans and Germanswiss would speak among themselves in English, to make sure we got the message. Once we'd got it, they'd go back to "poking fun at the halfbreed" in German.

Lochdale
12-01-2009, 03:34 AM
For such an awful, racist place lots of non-Swiss seem to be in a hurry to get there.

Gary Baldy
12-01-2009, 03:59 AM
For such an awful, racist place lots of non-Swiss seem to be in a hurry to get there.

It's for the great chocolate and watches, you know.

Rune
12-01-2009, 04:55 AM
As well as quite a few churches in Indonesia.

Malaysia is predominately Muslim also; however, there are houses of worship for other faiths there. There's a nice Hindu temple near the train station in Johor Bahru.Also Malaysia is the place that insisted that some (rather amusing) buildings belonging to a religious community had to be destroyed (http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2005/5/30/nation/11083825&sec=nation) and its members persecuted (Malaysia 'teapot cult' attacked (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4692039.stm)). And the place where they have actually prohibited non-Muslims from using a word (Malaysia withholds 'Allah Bibles' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8343626.stm)). And the place where conversion out of Islam is very problematic, both from official persecution and from public persecution. Leaving Islam for another faith or for atheism is also a problem in many other Muslim countries. And while non-Islam religious buildings are not illegal in Malaysia, getting permissions to build one is often extremely difficult and non-licensed buildings have been destroyed. Yet Malaysia is one of the more open and religious liberal “Muslim nations” – but a far way to go before it reach the level of Switzerland. With or without minaret ban.

Revenant Threshold
12-01-2009, 06:12 AM
I think cultures are valuable and beautiful things. Why?

I mean, i've seemed to have got the idea from the manner in which you've argued along these lines here (and in the past) that you think that a culture is something that is inherently valuable, in and of itself. I'm not sure whether that's an accurate idea of what you mean, but, if it is or isn't, there must be factors which go towards making a culture good or not - though I don't know whether your support for them is of the nature of suppoting what you consider good, or a purely principled democratic choice support.

I ask because it seems necessary to address what and how a culture comes about if you want to protect one. You've argued that the Swiss have the right to protect their culture, and so this move is a good one, but there's a point you're missing there - certainly, that is the goal, but that doesn't necessarily mean this is a wise decision that will lead to it. I'd be interested in hearing why you think this decision is not only reasonably motivated, but a wise method in achieving it, if indeed you do think that that's the case.

Superfluous Parentheses
12-01-2009, 07:01 AM
That's a strange attitude towards someone's reaction to being denied their constitutional rights. Speaking of which, one may find an English version of the Swiss constitution here (http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sz00000_.html). Some fun articles which I think apply to this particular issue:

I thought that was pretty clear, but I still already expanded on it somewhere above: the point I was making is that whether or not Muslims would be offended by it does not matter in deciding if it's a good or a bad law, at least not while there are much arguments to be made like the one you mentioned: it seems to be a clear attack on expression & freedom of religion.

If we let religious offence decide the laws we (in the Netherlands) wouldn't have condoms, same-sex marriage - or any protection of homosexuals at all, and probably a much stricter interpretation and execution of the blasphemy laws. People should be free to belief what they want but their belief shouldn't grant them any "legal powers of offense".

wmfellows
12-01-2009, 07:54 AM
Also Malaysia is the place that insisted that some (rather amusing) buildings belonging to a religious community had to be destroyed (http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2005/5/30/nation/11083825&sec=nation) and its members persecuted (Malaysia 'teapot cult' attacked (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4692039.stm)). And the place where they have actually prohibited non-Muslims from using a word (Malaysia withholds 'Allah Bibles' (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8343626.stm)).

What's with the melange of apparently private attacks and the government action?

The bible item is idiocy to be sure, although seems unresolved.


And while non-Islam religious buildings are not illegal in Malaysia, getting permissions to build one is often extremely difficult and non-licensed buildings have been destroyed. Yet Malaysia is one of the more open and religious liberal “Muslim nations” – but a far way to go before it reach the level of Switzerland. With or without minaret ban.

I'd rather prefer someone without axes to grind as you do found us some real benchmarks, rather than argument by assertion. I know from my business building licenses are generally a pain in the ass in Malaysia (and contra your assertions, here is a neutral benchmark of said observation: http://www.doingbusiness.org/ExploreEconomies/?economyid=119#DealingLicenses)

Rune
12-01-2009, 08:13 AM
What's with the melange of apparently private attacks and the government action?

The bible item is idiocy to be sure, although seems unresolved.Private or governmental mandated makes little difference for those it happens to as long as the government is unable or unwilling to protect the people from private persecution. And the government is dysfunctional in many Muslim dominated countries. What matters if you in Pakistan may or may not be officially legally entitled to build churches/temples if such an initiative would result in a pogrom against local Christians or Hindus?



I'd rather prefer someone without axes to grind as you do found us some real benchmarks, rather than argument by assertion. I know from my business building licenses are generally a pain in the ass in Malaysia (and contra your assertions, here is a neutral benchmark of said observation: http://www.doingbusiness.org/ExploreEconomies/?economyid=119#DealingLicenses)Wikipedia has a freedom of religion in Malaysia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion_in_Malaysia) page. While not as bad as many other places, there does seem to be some real issues. Also to do with buildings.

LonesomePolecat
12-01-2009, 08:39 AM
To answer your question, no they shouldn't. You also make the assumption that they weren't assimilating, or that if they weren't, it was their fault and not the fault of the society in question refusing to let them.You, on the other hand, are assuming that the Muslims are assimilating at a reasonable rate and aren't doing anything to provoke or anger their hosts. You're aware of the gang rapes of European women that Muslim street gangs have been committing all across the continent, right?

Europe has made a huge mistake in allowing large populations of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East to establish themselves in Europe.

LonesomePolecat
12-01-2009, 08:42 AM
No; I don't believe for a moment that is your motivation; any more than it is the motive of the people supporting this law
Because, of couse, anyone who disagrees with your enlightened, progressive views must be a hate-filled monster.

LonesomePolecat
12-01-2009, 08:49 AM
Um, no. As pointed out upthread it was proposed by "the nationalist Swiss People's Party", an organization that apparently is racist and xenophobic in general. So, "on the face of it" this is all about xenophobia, not buildings. Yes, it's always "racist and xenophobic" when whites try to preserve their own communities, isn't it?

Sandwich
12-01-2009, 08:54 AM
The standard "AmeriKKKa is worse" response in response to bigotry in another country. Sigh.
We should also try to avoid the opposite error. "The Swiss are just as bad as the Saudis". "The West is just as bad as the moslem world".

Captain Amazing
12-01-2009, 09:22 AM
Amazing! I never knew Christianity came from Switzerland! I always thought it came from the Middle East. As for Judaism- don't you remember that for most of history Europe has derided Jews as practicing an alien middle-eastern religion?

Christianity has been in Switzerland since the 4th century and has been the predominant religion of Switzerland since the 7th. Judaism has been in the country since at least the 12th century.

Der Trihs
12-01-2009, 09:28 AM
You, on the other hand, are assuming that the Muslims are assimilating at a reasonable rate and aren't doing anything to provoke or anger their hosts. You're aware of the gang rapes of European women that Muslim street gangs have been committing all across the continent, right?:rolleyes: Ah, so now they are a bunch of rapists.

Do you have any evidence that the typical Muslim in Switzerland is a religious fanatic and rapist? As opposed to being not particularly religious and law abiding?

Because, of couse, anyone who disagrees with your enlightened, progressive views must be a hate-filled monster.When they are a bunch of hyper-Christian racist right wing nationalists, yes. Which these are.

Yes, it's always "racist and xenophobic" when whites try to preserve their own communities, isn't it?
This has nothing to do with preserving anything.