Saturday, December 05, 2009

Swiss Ban on Minarets

“Minarets are our bayonets.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan

Al Jazeera’s response to the Swiss referendum banning the construction of minarets includes this opinion:

Imagine the furor that would certainly ensue should a country with an overwhelmingly Muslim population be asked to vote on whether its small Christian community should be allowed to build their churches according to a particular design or method, or whether they would rather do without the church bells sounding from time to time. (“Minarets and Europe's crisis”).

Writer Anas Altikriti's invitation to “imagine” a Muslim population making it tough for religious minorities glides over the glaring history of that very thing. Take away the element of putting the proposal to a vote, (since Caliphs used to make the decisions) and what Altikriti's imagining is the very dhimmi status Islam subjected Islamized Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa to for centuries. And still does, in far too many places.

Bat Ye’or in her The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam, described the limits placed on dhimmi Christians and Jews (Christians actually were the majority population), in the conquered lands of eastern Christendom:

In theory the laws concerning places of worship depended on the circumstances of the conquest and the terms of the treaties. Construction of new churches, convents, and synagogues was forbidden, but restoration of pre-Islamic places of worship was permitted, subject to certain restrictions and on condition that they were neither enlarged nor altered. (83)

According to Islamic tradition, the rule restricting ritual and forbidding the ringing of bells and the display of a cross, banners, icons, and other ritual objects date from the beginning of the conquest. (87)

Altikriti acknowledges that critics regularly decry Islam's record of religious freedom, engaging it only to warn that religious minorities' freedom in Muslim lands hangs by a slender thread.
One wonders where this leaves the throng of Western commentators who persistently remind their audiences that Christians are disallowed from practising their faith freely or building churches in certain Muslim countries. In fact one wonders whether the ramifications of the Swiss vote on Christians and other minorities living freely among Muslim societies were ever considered.

One doesn’t need to wonder. I’m certain threats of anti-Western, anti-Christian outbreaks in the Muslim world were promised to voters by Swiss authorities trying to dampen popular support for the ban. The threats didn't work.

The Swiss initiative doesn't impose reverse dhimmi status on Muslims in Switzerland. The ban doesn’t interfere with the building of new mosques, nor the practice of Islam. Nor does it impose personal restrictions of Muslims, least of all requiring them to wear humiliating clothing or armbands. It prohibits nothing but the construction of minarets, clearly seeing them as symbolic of Islamic domination that is not welcome to the majority of Swiss voters. One commentator I heard said the Swiss were trying to send a message to deaf political leadership: Stop ignoring our concerns about the immigration of unassimilated Muslims.

The Swiss are a prickly, not particularly welcoming nation. I spent a few weeks there one summer in the mountains high above Lake Geneva. Almost daily I could hear automatic fire from the incessant training of the military reservists in the valley down below. Swiss neutrality is not the product of pacifist indifference nor national timidity: it’s ferociously guarded with a willingness to make war to defend it. Swiss border roads and bridges have been mined since 1938. Invasion plans by The Third Reich were a constant concern for the Swiss, even though popular history of the war always implies Swiss neutrality was an absolute respected by all belligerents. Even allied airmen who landed crippled planes in Switzerland faced a tough time in Swiss internee camps.

Nor is Swiss defense-mindedness limited to universal marksmanship and military vigilance. Swiss resistance to subversion by malevolent outsiders is a centuries-old national trait. The Swiss were well aware of the designs on Switzerland Hitler described in Mein Kampf. When Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933, “the Swiss Federal Council prohibited the wearing of Hitlerite uniforms and insignia, and subjected violators to imprisonment or deportation. . . . On 18th February 1936, the Federal council ordered the immediate suppression of all Nazi organisations in Switzerland. In 1937, the Communist Party and all other parties affiliated with foreign organisations were outlawed.”

This situation seems basic enough. The Swiss are a border-loving people, faced with an influx of immigrants whose religion predicates a borderless Ummah, and preaches all infidel nations are doomed to be flattened into floor tiles in the grand, global mosque of the Prophet. The kind of obstinate disinterest in assimilation Muslim immigrants display in every European nation was bound to lead to friction in Switzerland. Considering this history, the ban on minarets seems mild.

But sure enough, and as Altikriti warned us, Al Jazeera reported yesterday that “Iran's foreign minister warned of unspecified ‘consequences’ if the ban were enforced.” (“IRAN: Outrage, and a warning, over Swiss vote to ban minarets”).

Well, then, it must be serious if Muslims are outraged, and threatening retaliation against “Western targets” (Christians in Muslim countries). When does that ever happen?

The Koran says, We can step on you, but you can’t step on us.

But the Swiss have that persistent national stubbornness going for them. And they’ve proved before this they’ll back it up.

No comments: