Dear Switzerland: WTF?

Dear Switzerland,

You welcomed me with open arms as a child immigrant from 1997-1998. You unknowingly shaped my life in immeasurable ways. I attended your schools and played in your community bands. In short, I love the cheese and wine you produce, not to mention your beautiful landscapes. I’ve even made a lifelong friend.

I get that you have this image of yourself of being all progressive and such. Sure, you helped broker the peace between the United States and the United Kingdom after their help in the construction of ships like the CSS Alabama, an process that lead to the creation of the League of Nations, hosted in Geneva. You also host many of the world’s premier international institutions and are held in high esteem worldwide.

I mean, ok, you didn’t give women the right to vote until 1971, and heck you didn’t join the United Nations until 2002 (despite the fact that you host a large portion of UN organizations), but whatever.

And, while I knew this was probably coming, I was a bit surprised when I heard today that you decided to ban new minarets. You’re freaked out by Muslims, even though they’re roughly five percent of your population.

But I was even more baffled when I read this in The New York Times:

Of 150 mosques or prayer rooms in Switzerland, only 4 have minarets, and only 2 more minarets are planned. None conduct the call to prayer. There are about 400,000 Muslims in a population of some 7.5 million people. Close to 90 percent of Muslims in Switzerland are from Kosovo and Turkey, and most do not adhere to the codes of dress and conduct associated with conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, said Manon Schick, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International in Switzerland.

So you’re freaked out by four minarets across 40 thousand square kilometers of territory? Really? Are you that insecure? You do realize that that’s an average of one minaret per 10,000 square kilometers, right? (That’s like the size of Lebanon.) Further, apparently NONE of them do the call to prayer. You do know that, right?

Was propagandist crap like this really necessary?

Sadly, I guess it worked.

When I make classic Swiss fondue with a caquelon that I bought in Geneva a few years ago, I’ll give a thought to how I hope you’ll one day change your mind.

Bisous de la Californie,


6 Replies to “Dear Switzerland: WTF?”

  1. Minarets are badass. They turn a skyline from boring to amazing. Istanbul would be a boring city like any other without them. (I wonder if there are examples of Muslim countries forcing Christian churches to scale down their crosses?)

  2. The ironic thing is that this is EXACTLY like banning protestant churches from having church towers, which was the case e.g. in Austria well into the 19th century. There is nothing new under the sun.
    The only thing I don’t get is, did nobody challenge the holding of this referendum on constitutional grounds, before it happened?! I CAN’T imagine that such a blatantly discriminatory thing would pass a panel of even half sober judges.

  3. @ oso: there is active discrimination against christianity in many muslim countries- as well as in india!- but historically muslim rulers have been happy to collect an extra tax from non-muslims and otherwise let them be.

  4. This shows that West is afraid of Islamization and it shows then that they do not understand it. I am a Muslim living in Switzerland and I am very saddened by this news, but I also see that something must change. The West must try to understand Islam as a whole instead of seeing nothing but extremism. I am not a strict Muslim but I still feel that I should be allowed to follow my faith. It is discrimination otherwise.

  5. Oso – Minarets are “badass”, but a lot of the people that gravitate to them stink. In fact, a lot of the mullahs that speak in mosques would love nothing more than to make life “boring” by banning various forms of modern entertainment.

    Leila – Have you been to a Muslim nation lately, perhaps the Middle East? Being Middle Eastern myself, I sure have and notice the insane amount of intolerance in policies towards minority faiths and religions (Bahai, Jewish, etc.) The concept of secularism doesn’t even exist in my motherland. YET.

    The Swiss are generally unsupportive towards ALL religious institutions, not just Islamic ones.

    My two centavos.

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