The Swiss Confederation by referendum has decided, with a 57.5% majority, to constitutionally ban the use of minarets in the country. 22 of the 26 cantons also voted in favor of the proposition, making it legal.(1) The use or definition of minarets is not specifically defined, making the application of the provision unclear, and moreover there are only 4 mosques with minarets in the country to begin with. It is therefore obvious that the minaret itself here functions not as an architectural eyesore, which indeed it need not be given the excellent traditions of Islamic religious architecture, but as a proxy for the presence of muslims in Switzerland. Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Minister of Justice of the Confederation, attempted to explain the result of the referendum as “not a vote against Islam, but a vote directed against fundamentalist utterances”.(2) The preposterousness of this claim is obvious, given that a minaret, although a vehicle of utterances, is not itself an utterance. Nor does it make much sense to call a tower a ‘fundament’, whether conceptually or from an engineer’s perspective.
The ludicrousness of the proposition aside, it is yet another step in a worrying pan-European trend to directly attack the muslim minorities in their respective countries. Continue reading “Swiss minaret ban sign of worrying xenophobia”