Autonomous mosques, optional minarets, appeased tensions: Tariq Ramadan pleads for independent mosques

Tariq Ramadan, professor at Oxford and the University of Rotterdam, participated in a conversation on state regulation of mosques in Switzerland. He acknowledged the growing fears of Swiss society of Muslims in their midst, yet urged thoughtful policy. In an effort to clarify the situation and appease tensions, Ramadan cites the work of sociologist Jocelyn Cesari. The building of mosques in Europe and in the United States, she asserts, have nothing to do with an interest in cultural dominance or the refusal to integrate Muslims into the broader society. Rather, it is the wish of Muslims, once installed in a city to construct places of worship that help them navigate their integration into broader society-all the while remaining devout. Ramadan clarifies that minarets are optional parts of mosque architecture, and that Muslim architecture is generally responsive to the new design concepts of changing locations. The only action that could jeopardize this acculturation is state control of Muslim architecture, mosque management and sermons. Islam, however, is increasingly subject in the West to suspicion, supervision, and security. Instead, Muslims must be engaged for creative solutions and be granted independence from populist politicians who garner political support through playing the fears of non-Muslims and xenophobes.