Right-Wing Radicals Protest against Minarets

9 October 2010
Around 150 anti-minaret protests have gathered in Langenthal to denounce the recent decision to allow the construction of a minaret for the local Islamic center. Members of the far-right Swiss Nationalist Party (PNOS) demanded that the November 2009 ban on minarets be respected, however local officials have said that the original decision to allow the minaret was made before the national referendum took place. As part of the demonstration, a number of paper-maché minarets were symbolically “swept off” of the Swiss flag, while four individuals fully clad in black carried signs denouncing the burqa.

Free riding with Islam Critics

28 September 2010
An old journalistic adage says: “sex sells.” These days, however, whether it’s minarets, headscarves or the Qur’an, it seems it is Islam that sells. Nonetheless, the recent news of a minaret going up in Langenthal has been handled responsibly by the press, and the picture used in most cases clearly shows the diminutive dimensions of the proposed minaret.
Only the newspaper Blick has taken a different course: while using pictures overexaggerating the size of the minaret, they have also characterized a recent decision allowing veils in the school community of Bad Ragaz as a “further triumph for the Muslims!” It is precisely this kind of journalism which promotes the media careers of extremists like the recent American pastor who threatened to burn the Qur’an: without the media’s spotlights there would not have even been a problem.

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.

Majority of city council members vote for allowing Shia mosque to be built in Copenhagen

On Thursday April 15th 2010 a large majority of the members of the city council of Copenhagen voted yes to a district plan which will allow a traditional Shia mosque to be built in Copenhagen. It will be the first purpose build mosque in Denmark. Only the members of Danish People’s Party voted no, while the members of the Liberals and one Iranian born member of the Red-Green Alliance didn’t vote. The question about allowing the mosque to be built has created a heated debate and Iranians living in exile in Denmark have demonstrated against the passing of the district plan because they suspect the Iranian government of funding the mosque. Ahlul Bait, which is the organization behind the mosque, says the funding comes from private donors in Iran and fund raising in Denmark.

The site where the mosque will be erected already houses a mosque. However the current mosque is established in an old warehouse and the new mosque will be constructed as a traditional mosque with two minarets and a blue cupola. The purpose of the minarets will only be decoration and they will not be used for calling for prayer.

Presidential candidate: No abortions, no minarets

Rudolf Gehring, president of the Christian Party of Austria, has stated that were he to be elected president he would not permit any further construction of minarets in the country. “There are already prayer spaces; there is no need for minarets,” he said in an interview with Der Standard, before making allusion to the militant character of Islam, and its beginnings as a religion connected with violence.

UN human rights council scolds Switzerland

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has severely condemned the ban on the construction of minarets within a resolution against the defamation of religion. Though Switzerland was not explicitly named, it is the only country in the world to have banned minarets. Consequently, this represents the first acknowledgement by the UN of the adoption of the Swiss minaret ban, and seems to confirm the fear of Swiss diplomats that Switzerland’s image in the world has suffered due to the ban.

The condemnation in the UNHRC was supported by the Pakistani mission to the UN, which has been fighting the alleged connection between Islam and violence before the UNHRC since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The EU states, as well as the United States and a number of Latin American states voted against the ban. Due to its observer status in the council Switzerland could not vote on the resolution, though it stated that protecting solely Islam was counter to the universal notion of human rights, while it also brought up the more fundamental problem already echoed by France: international law protects individual religious freedoms, but not belief systems as such.

Why not an Anti-Muslim Brigade?

Erich Kocina reacts to the recent IMAS study (see above) in this op-ed piece, pointing out two main points made clear by results: firstly, in coming out 59% against minarets, Austrians do not think much differently than the Swiss. And secondly, demagogues have done just as good a job in Austria as they have next door. In other words, to what degree one has personally been affected becomes a non-issue, in the same way that those Swiss most against minarets were in areas where no Muslims live.

Kocina states that we can imagine already the consequences of these results: instead of policies, which serve to ensure social peace and attempt to resolve (very real) problems, we will see cosmetic measures taken to heighten the repression of one section of the population in the name of enhancing the general population’s “subjective feeling of security.” In the end, the goal is to win votes. In the same fashion as the just as expensive and pointless current involvement of the Austrian army in patrolling the border in Burgenland, “Anti-Muslim Protective Brigades” could be brought in to patrol the country. Seem ridiculous? He asks rhetorically, – in these times, unfortunately not.

Copyright for anti-Islam propaganda?

The French party Front National is advertising their rightwing agenda on election posters that very much resemble those of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) during their campaign against minaret construction. The SVP’s poster showed a Muslim woman, almost completely veiled in black cloth, next to an “army” of minarets, covering the Swiss flag. The poster of the National Front’s youth organization shows a similar lady next to a map of France, which is also pierced by minarets and additionally bears colors and symbols of Islamic countries’ flags.

Apparently there is a copyright even on supremacy, and so the SVP now claims violation of copyright. Front National assert that the poster was their idea and even postulates that the People’s Party are building on the “achievements” of the Front National. Furthermore, the French party claims, there are only a few images that can be employed to depict the “creeping Islamisation” of France.

When the Swiss voted to ban new Minarets, this man built one

A week after Switzerland voted to ban the construction of minarets, in an apparent act of defiance, a new minaret unexpectedly sprang up in Bussigny, a small town near Geneva. But the new minaret is not attached to a mosque; Bussigny doesn’t even have one. And it’s not the work of a local Muslim outraged by Switzerland’s controversial vote to ban the structures, which often are used to launch the call to prayer.

Instead, Bussigny’s minaret is attached to the warehouse of a shoe store called Pomp It Up, which is part of a Swiss chain. It was erected by the chain’s owner, Guillaume Morand, who had an architect fashion it out of plastic and wood and attach it to a chimney. The new minaret, nearly 20 feet high and illuminated at night, is clearly visible from the main highway connecting Lausanne and Geneva.

“The referendum was a scandal,” Mr. Morand said recently. “I was ashamed to be Swiss. I don’t have the power to do much, but I wanted to give a message of peace to Muslims.”