Wilders Calls for Minaret Ban in Netherlands

21 September 2011

Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) are calling for a referendum against the construction of new minarets in the Netherlands. The politician, stating that ‘Minarets… are the towers of a rising desert ideology’, announced that he will submit draft legislation to parliament to move towards a public vote on the matter.

Minaret Ban Was No Mistake

29 October 2010
Almost one year following the referendum to ban minarets in Switzerland, a survey commissioned by the Protestant newspaper Reformiert and carried out by Isopublic seems to indicate that the results of the Swiss minaret ban would be similar were the vote to be held again today: 43% of the 1004 individuals from German and French-speaking Switzerland interviewed responded that they would vote for the ban, while 46.4% responded that they would vote against the ban.
However, given the fact that all earlier surveys before the 2009 ban had put the percentage of supporters at 37%, and after taking into consideration the effective emotional campaigning and mobilizing techniques of the minaret opponents, the results of this survey seem to indicate rather that the gap between the two camps has shrunk – especially amongst those in higher income brackets, who would more readily support the ban today than last year.
While almost half of respondents claimed that minaret ban had changed nothing, only 5.4% considered it to have had a positive effective, compared with the 40.2% who believe it to have had a negative effective on Swiss society. The latter group highlighted a growing polarization of Swiss society, heightened suspicions with regard to Muslims, lower acceptance of otherness, and generally negative portrayals of Muslims in the media.
Finally, somewhat surprisingly, two-thirds of French Swiss and 15-34-year-olds both responded negatively to the question “Do you perceive there to be an anti-Muslim sentiment in Switzerland?” while more than half of German Swiss and 55-74-year-olds responded positively. In total, 47.2% of respondents answered negatively to the same question, while 48.9% agreed that they perceived such a feeling today in Switzerland, for example in the debates over the burqa or Muslim cemeteries.
Reformiert (German)
http://www.reformiert.info/artikel_7698.html
http://www.reformiert.info/files_reformiert/5286_0.pdf
For the survey: http://www.reformiert.info/files_reformiert/5283_0.pdf

Rise in Anti-Muslim Attitudes Following Minaret Ban

17 August 2010
The Federal Commission against Racism (CFR) has published its 2009 report, and according to the president of the commission, Georg Kreis, the political climate was reflected in the incident reported. Recent comments by the German Finance Minister led to indignation among Swiss in general, and a feeling that they had all been victims of racism.
However, the report made clear that the initiative against the construction of minarets had led to a rise in anti-Muslims attitudes. 162 confirmed cases of racism and xenophobia were documented by the report, whereas in 2008 there had been only 82 cases. The CFR also remarked that numerous cases were reported by witnesses or third parties, which may indicate a heightened public sensitivity.
Despite the rise in anti-Muslim attitudes, however, the report confirmed that people of African and East-European origin remain the most common victims of racism in Switzerland.

Security: Minaret Ban not Influential, Though Spies Are After the Banks

According to a recent report by the Swiss Intelligence Services (SIC), the ban on the construction of minarets has not led to a heightened risk of Islamic terrorism in the country. Nonetheless, the SIC states that Islamic terrorism remains “one of the most present threats” to the Switzerland, and that the state should not lower its guard. Conversely, according to the SIC report one of the most important risks to Swiss security is the espionage that foreign states have employed with regard to Swiss banks.

The report comes about at a rather uncomfortable moment for the SIC, currently under investigation for having gathered information concerning over 100 000 individuals without having respected prevailing norms.

Council of Europe Rebukes Swiss Minaret Ban

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has called for a moratorium on the
Swiss minaret ban during a debate on Islam, Islamism, and Islamophobia in Europe. The
recommendation was passed with the unanimous support of the entire assembly, including that
of all the Swiss representatives, even André Bugnon, who had earlier supported the ban. In the
adopted text, the minaret ban was criticized as a form of discrimination against Muslims, and
recommended that minarets be treated in a similar fashion to church steeples; the text went on to
recommend against legally banning the veil or the burka in Europe.
Other complaints against the minaret ban have been lodged with the European Court of Human
Rights, which were recognized as valid by the court in May 2010. Folco Galli, spokesperson
for the Swiss Ministry of Justice, states that Switzerland takes notice of the resolution, but that
authorities are obligated to follow the official change to the Swiss constitution brought about by
the referendum on minarets. In a similar fashion, while the Neue Zürcher Zeitung did not take
issue with the general position taken by the Council of Europe, the recommendation to impose a
moratorium on the ban was criticized as misguided, as it would imply that state officials ought to
disregard prevailing constitutional law.

Swiss Oppose UN Resolution on Minaret Ban

Several Muslim and African states have proposed to denounce bans against minaret construction as ‘Islamophobic’ as part of a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on religious defamation. According to Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raphaël Saborit, “in principle Switzerland disagrees with the concept of a resolution devoted to the defamation of religion,” as religious freedom ought to protect individual rights to practise one’s own religion, and not the religion itself.

National Front Party accused of copying Swiss minaret ban propaganda poster

Several commentators have noted the similarity of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front posters against Islamism in France to those in the anti-minaret campaign in Switzerland in November 2009. Please see the article to compare the images.

Follow-up survey on Switzerland’s minaret ban

According to a “Vox” follow-up survey conducted in Switzerland following the referendum banning minarets, proponents of the ban wanted to make a symbolic gesture against the spread of Islam in Switzerland, however were not rejecting Muslims in Switzerland in general.

The survey demonstrated a clear division between right and left-wing voters, 80 percent of whom voted respectively for and against the ban. The political middle played the deciding role, especially FDP and CVP voters, who supported the ban against the wishes of their preferred parties. The level of education of voters was an equally important factor, with 76 percent of voters with apprenticeship and vocational degrees supporting the ban, as opposed to 34 percent of higher-educated voters. Around 60 percent of Protestant as well as Catholic voters supported the ban, while in general agnostic and atheist voters rejected it. Contrary to what had been speculated following the referendum, left-wing female voters massively rejected the ban (16% voted yes) even compared to their male counterparts (21 percent), while on the right a noticeable difference was equally present between female voters (87 percent) and male voters (71 percent).

The main reason given by supporters of the ban was the desire to send a symbolic message of opposition to the spread of Islam and the Islamic model of society, while one out of every six who voted in favor also mentioned discrimination against Christian churches in Muslim countries as a decisive factor.

However, the authors of the study argue that the explanation for the vote cannot be simplistically linked to xenophobia or identity-loss due to globalization, pointing out that 40 percent of voters who support a modern and cosmopolitan Switzerland, as well as equal opportunities between Swiss and foreigners, also voted in support of the ban. Furthermore, 64 percent of all voters were fully or fairly persuaded that Swiss and Islamic ways of life were compatible, and only 15 percent of those in favor of the ban cited specific complaints regarding Muslims living in Switzerland. Thus the study concludes that the result of the referendum should not be interpreted as a general rejection of Muslims living in Switzerland.

Not against Muslims, but against Islam

According to a “Vox” follow-up survey conducted in Switzerland following the referendum banning minarets, proponents of the ban wanted to make a symbolic gesture against the spread of Islam in Switzerland, however were not rejecting Muslims in Switzerland in general.

The survey demonstrated a clear division between right and left-wing voters, 80 percent of whom voted respectively for and against the ban. The political middle played the deciding role, especially FDP and CVP voters, who supported the ban against the wishes of their preferred parties. The level of education of voters was an equally important factor, with 76 percent of voters with apprenticeship and vocational degrees supporting the ban, as opposed to 34 percent of higher-educated voters. Around 60 percent of Protestant as well as Catholic voters supported the ban, while in general agnostic and atheist voters rejected it. Contrary to what had been speculated following the referendum, left-wing female voters massively rejected the ban (16% voted yes) even compared to their male counterparts (21 percent), while on the right a noticeable difference was equally present between female voters (87 percent) and male voters (71 percent).

The main reason given by supporters of the ban was the desire to send a symbolic message of opposition to the spread of Islam and the Islamic model of society, while one out of every six who voted in favor also mentioned discrimination against Christian churches in Muslim countries as a decisive factor.

However, the authors of the study argue that the explanation for the vote cannot be simplistically linked to xenophobia or identity-loss due to globalization, pointing out that 40 percent of voters who support a modern and cosmopolitan Switzerland, as well as equal opportunities between Swiss and foreigners, also voted in support of the ban. Furthermore, 64 percent of all voters were fully or fairly persuaded that Swiss and Islamic ways of life were compatible, and only 15 percent of those in favor of the ban cited specific complaints regarding Muslims living in Switzerland. Thus the study concludes that the result of the referendum should not be interpreted as a general rejection of Muslims living in Switzerland.

“Anti-minaret” slogans spray-painted on Strasbourg mayor’s residence

Socialist Party mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries’ private home was vandalized with Islamophobic and “anti-minaret” slogans. In November in the midst of the Swiss minaret banning referendum and controversy, Ries told reporters that there would be “no reason” to impose a similar minaret ban in Strasbourg, particularly for one currently under construction. The vandalism is still under investigation.