Join Now for Free!
A Swiss businessman defied the country's recently imposed constitutional amendment banning minarets, by building his very own atop his office. Guillame Morand opposed the ban, which is an effort to curb militant Islam. Morand, the owner of a chain of shoe stores, vehemently countered the ban by building the minaret atop the chimney above his office. He described the ban to AFP news agency as counter-productive, since Switzerland tries to woo Arabs to the country to "visit the country and to spend their money here." Liberal parties within the country were also partly to blame for the ban, Morand suggested, since they failed to counter the "right-wing scare tactics." The Swiss People's Party, the main group to spearhead the ban, released provocative posters of women wearing a full burqa standing in front of rocket-shaped minarets. Not only did Muslims within the country decry the ban, but world leaders, officials, and various religious organizations pointed out that the ban would only intensify anti-Muslim sentiment and possibly drive the already-strained relations over the edge. Alienation and discrimination are not ways to counter militant Islam, many critics against the ban have argued. More and more, Anti-Islamic sentiments have seeped across the continent, fostering fear, ignorance and a general lack of tolerance. The trends worry many religious organizations abroad, since persecution of one group could lead to many more. Various religious organizations, such as the Vatican and prominent Jewish leaders condemned the ban as a sign of religious intolerance. The Vatican backed a statement that was released by the Swiss Bishops' Conference that called the ban "a great challenge on the path of integration in dialogue and mutual respect." The Jewish Telegraphic Agency also stated that such religious intolerance was a harbinger of worse things to come, and noted the similarities between the religious persecution that European Jews faced, and what Muslims are now facing throughout the world. Past bans and regulations were put on synagogues as well. "Precisely because the Jewish community has firsthand experience of discrimination, it is committed to active opposition to discrimination and to action in favor of religious freedom and peaceful relations between the religions," said two Swiss Jewish groups. A group of influential Swiss intellectuals is already preparing an initiative to overturn the ban, but many in the worldwide community as well as the intellectuals within Switzerland speculate that the ban will be struck down anyway by the European Court of Human Rights. The American Anti-Defamation league also stated their support for an overturning of the ban. And related how similar the ban was to past discriminations. "A century ago, a Swiss referendum banned Jewish ritual slaughter in an attempt to drive out its Jewish population. We share the... concern that those who initiated the anti-minaret campaign could try to further erode religious freedom through similar means," they stated.
Join Now for Free!