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"Reaction to the Swiss vote of November 29"
 Opinion column

swiss-minarets57 % of the Swiss who took part in the vote of November 29 (55 % of the population) turned down the construction of new minarets for mosques. Immediately, it raised a global storm in the political and the media world.
The vote was generally lambasted and described as a shame for Switzerland with very few exceptions (among them some Muslim intellectuals it should be noted).
Are the Swiss then horrible Islamophobic fascists just because they said no to minarets in spite of polls which seemed to dictate the answer to them on the proposal of two ‘supposedly’ far-right political parties?
I suggest that we should examine the facts in as cool a manner as possible.
To begin with, we should stress that most “cantons”, with few exceptions voted for the ban regardless of whether they were French-speaking, German-speaking, Italian-speaking or Romansh. Then the vote was not about banning the building of new mosques, which would infringe human rights (disregarded by most Muslim countries incidentally) but about banning the erection of new minarets.
We should remember that the minaret is a tall spire from which the muezzin issues the call to prayer. It has no religious character. But the public call to prayer from the minaret, as is the rule in Muslim countries, if made in the West can be considered as both religiously and politically motivated.
Some go further and consider the minaret as an element of military architecture in keeping with the conquering nature of Islam ( Andalusia can relate to that) Many Muslims think minarets are not necessary to call to prayer in non-Muslim countries.
The posters of the Swiss people’s party calling on the Swiss to refuse minarets were widely criticized.
They featured a woman dressed in full Islamic garb standing beside a mosque bristling with missile-shaped minarets (an obvious allusion to Islamic terrorism) It is blamed for playing on fear without wondering whether this fear might not be justified in any way.
Could it be that Muslims have a bad image in Swiss opinion and in many countries of the world? A bad image in Switzerland first.
In 40 years Swiss Muslims increased their number from 20,000 to 400,000 and they are increasingly stepping up their demands.
They overwhelmingly refuse the conversion of Muslims to other religions and oppose it often by violent means.
They demand that non-Muslims who wed a Muslim woman should convert to Islam.
They want their women to be allowed to wear the veil and the burqa.
They refuse swimming lessons for Muslim girls, male doctors to attend to Muslim women. They want to be allowed to slaughter animals in a ritual way, they want the sharia to be partly enforced with their own Islamic courts, they want separate cemeteries.
All this is not a sign that they are integrated into their host country.
As in most developed countries, the Swiss read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch television and surf the Web. They know that in Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam’s holy places, a country which finances the building of a good many mosques in the world with the clear aim of proselytizing for its rigorist version of Islam, church building is banned and those who have another religion different than Islam and worship, even privately, are imprisoned or expelled.
They also know that the mainstream narrative reported by the media in most Muslim countries is that 9/11 is a fraud engineered by the CIA and Mossad to discredit Muslims and that Muslims are persecuted by the West in Iraq, Afghanistan, in the Middle East and the inner cities of Western countries and that suicide attacks are justified by many there. Another bad image likely to inspire fear.
Banning the erection of minarets is undoubtedly a sign that people fear a demographic invasion. Minarets may be the tip of the iceberg.
Landscape and architecture are part of the peoples’ culture. The proliferation of minarets would inevitably lead to a historic break.
A country needs a dominant culture unlike the twaddle spread by the supporters of multiculturalism. Switzerland like the rest of Europe has Judeo-Christian roots. It must be open to others on condition that the latter respect its values. An unbiased and civil dialogue should be established between Swiss Muslims and other Swiss people.
True, Muslims have rights guaranteed by the Federal constitution but, although they tend to forget it, they also have duties. The Swiss vote with its underlying meaning is a wake-up call. The Swiss have paid no heed to their government’s recommendations that sounded like blackmail.
The government claimed that banning the erection of minarets would not prevent Islamic radicalism, would threaten religious peace and favor further radicalization and possibly terrorist attacks in Switzerland. It would be ill received in the world and would have nasty economic fallout (to put it clearly Gulf investors could withdraw their money. Financial blackmail)
How did people in France react to the Swiss vote?
A first poll of Internet-users taken by a French magazine (Le Point) showed that an overwhelming majority of them agreed with the Swiss, denounced the gap between the elites and the people and were all in favor of Swiss-style referendums as an expression of direct democracy. Food for thought for our elected officials, our government and the intelligentsia.
The Swiss vote comes at a moment when the debate on French identity is in full swing.
I am one of the leaders of the Occitan Nation Party. I’m voicing here my personal opinion but I link what happened in Switzerland to the recent incidents in the wake of Algeria’s soccer team victory and its qualification for the World cup next year.
Religion is part of identity but language is a predominant medium. At the present time even if Occitania is not officially recognized, we define ourselves as French citizens of Occitan nationality irrespective of our religious or philosophical beliefs.
French Muslims are first and foremost citizens of the French Republic and then Muslim and not the other way round.
Similarly they cannot be at the same time Algerian (Arab or Berber) and French. Consequently sporting a T-shirt featuring the shape of France with the Algerian flag as a background is a dangerous piece of nonsense inviting criticism from those who think that the Algerians want to conquer France.
 If one day, so I hope, an Occitan Republic sees the light of day legal immigrants, be they Muslim or not, will be citizens of that Republic and will have to abide by its laws.
They will have rights but also duties like all Occitan citizens.
Thanks to the Swiss whatever the language they speak in their “canton” for prompting a necessary debate in France.
Jean-Pierre Hilaire
Vice-president of the Occitan Nation Party
December 2, 2009
Tag(s) : #Tribune libre
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