On Sunday, 29 November 2009, 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters (participation rate 53.4 per cent) voted to ban the building of new minarets in the country.
Religioscope offers an analysis of this unexpected result and attempts to put it into perspective.
Also of interest a commentary in The Times of London, written by Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregation in Oxford:
Minarets are not an essential part of Islam
The Swiss vote does not infringe Muslim religious rights:
Switzerland’s referendum vote to ban minarets is needlessly xenophobic but it does not infringe the religious liberty of Swiss Muslims. Minarets remain emblematic of mosques in the Muslim heartlands but there is no theological reason why houses of worship in the West have to incorporate such towers.
Their original purpose was to relay the prayer call with the unamplified voice. Today this is done by modern technology, so minarets are not integral to contemporary mosque design. European mosques should stop mindlessly mimicking Eastern design and create prayer halls that blend into the landscape.
Muslims who have settled in Switzerland (and elsewhere in Europe) should not confuse culture with creed. To become integrated into their surroundings, they must relinquish the cultural baggage of their ancestral homelands. They should practice a Swiss Islam that is rooted in the society in which they live.
Although the Swiss have been convinced by right-wing zealots that minarets are a problem, local Muslims should not embrace a victim mentality. They must confront the toxic radicalisation of their faith that is imported from overseas.
Other than that… this was a democratic vote in a democratic country. Get over it.
And as the Christian Science Monitor reports, there is a good deal of hypocrisy going around…
Muslim reaction across the world to Sunday’s Swiss referendum banning the construction of further minarets for mosques in the tiny Alpine nation has been almost entirely negative.
Yet the referendums outcome pales in comparison to restrictions on non-Muslims who aim to practice their faith in Muslim lands. In fact, the vote only brought Swiss legal practice closer to that of many majority Muslim states that also place limits on the construction of houses of worship.