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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Gingerbread Minarets Protest the Swiss Ban

Minaret, as Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines, is a tall slander tower of a mosque having one or more balconies from which the summons to prayer is cried by the muezzin. Minaret, which is more or less what belfry means to church, is no longer authorized in Switzerland.

Swiss voters have supported a referendum proposal on November 29, to ban the building of new minarets in the country. In his unique model of direct democracy, Swiss voters are invited to the polls several times a year to vote in national or regional referendums and people’s initiatives. More than 57.5% of voters, called for vote after Swiss People’s Party’s collection of 100,000 signatures for referendum, voted in favor of the ban. The government said it accepted the decision, and that the construction of new minarets would no longer be permitted.

Switzerland, where Islam is the most widespread religion after Christianity, has a population 400,000 Muslims and only four minarets available in approximately 150-200 mosques. Fortunately the existing minarets in Zürich, Geneva, Winterthur and Wangen bei Olten mosques are not affected by the ban.

Is the matter only about a part of religious place or is there a bigger picture here? First of all, what scares Muslims in Switzerland is whether there will be further referendums to enlarge the bans by adopting laws to deport non-citizen residents within his/her entire family who committed a crime, to ban niqab or to close Muslim cemeteries – propositions that were speculated lately by extreme nationalist groups in the country.

The committee’s campaign featured provocative posters featuring a drawing of a Muslim woman in an abaya and niqab, next to a number of minarets protruding from a Swiss flag pictured in a way “reminiscent of missiles”

Secondly, what scares other European countries citizens is that the successful anti-immigrant and Islamophobic campaign in Switzerland can be taken as an example by other campaigns to provoke fear and hatred of Islam in the entire continent.

Amnesty International said the vote violated freedom of religion and would probably be overturned by the Swiss Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights. In addition, the Swiss Green Party, undermining the contradiction between the Swiss Constitution and freedom of religion, announced intention to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on the issue.

The possibility for the cancellation of minaret ban is still on the table waiting, however the emergence of Islamophobic campaign in Europe is already out in the streets of old continent.

About the Contributor
Barış Munyakmaz served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Managing Editor: 2010-2011 Culture & Diversity Editor: 2009-2010