Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Swiss campaign against minarets

“We don’t have anything against Muslims,” said Oskar
Freysinger, member of parliament for the Swiss People’s Party. “But we
don’t want minarets. The minaret is a symbol of a political and
aggressive Islam, it’s a symbol of Islamic law. The minute you have
minarets in Europe it means Islam will have taken over.”

Mr Freysinger’s words may sound extreme, even paranoid, but this is
a general election year in Switzerland, and the campaign against
minarets is playing well with voters. A recent opinion poll for one
Swiss newspaper found that 43% of those surveyed were in favour of a
ban on minarets.

“We have our civil laws here,” insisted Mr Freysinger. “Banning
minarets would send a clear signal that our European laws, our Swiss
laws, have to be accepted. And if you want to live here, you must
accept them. If you don’t, then go back.”

Professor of Islamic studies Reinhard Schulze warns that any hint
that Muslims are not peaceful might result in violence. Better to let
them have the minarets, so they don’t hurt us.

It’s a harsh message for Swiss Muslims, many of whom
were born in Switzerland. There are fears that the campaign against
minarets will provoke growing resentment against Swiss society.

“I think Swiss Muslims will be angry and bitter over this,” said
Reinhard Schulze, professor of Islamic Studies at Berne University.
“And we know that anger and bitterness among a community can lead to
radicalisation, even to militancy.”

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