Muslim Baiting, Swiss Style.
The petty and unnecessary ban on minarets is just one measure taken by the right wing Swiss People’s Party in a deliberate attempt to stoke up xenophobia, which many Muslims already face in Switzerland.
Apparently religious freedom is enshrined in the Swiss constitution and the targeting of Muslims is deliberate and provocative.
Readers will probably remember the sheep posters from 2007, and the SVP are continuing down the same path, whipping up resentment against Muslims and alienating them in Switzerland.
This populist form of xenophobia has been common enough over the past 150 years and it leads to a very bitter place.
No one, who believes in religious freedom, should welcome this vote or the longer-term consequences of division and distrust within a society, deliberately provoked by a rightwing political party for their own cheap ends.
Update 1: Anyone interested should read the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance’s report on Switzerland,[PDF download] here’s a small extract:
“117. In its third report ECRI recommended that the authorities take steps to combat prejudice and discrimination against Muslim communities, particularly as regards practical issues connected with the practice of their religion.
118. Muslims, who are estimated to number between 350 000 and 400 000 in Switzerland, encounter manifestations of racism and intolerance, which are described in several parts of this report. The Swiss authorities themselves consider that there was a significant increase in acts of intolerance with regard to members of Switzerland’s Muslim communities between 2002 and 2006.
119. In particular, ECRI is concerned to learn that, in recent years, some political parties, including the UDC, have considerably exploited and encouraged prejudice and racist stereotypes concerning Muslims within the majority population, not only in their rhetoric but also in political campaign posters. As a result some parts of public opinion may equate the entire Muslim population with terrorists and religious extremists. The fear of seeing Switzerland “swamped by Muslims” is also exploited. In some cases, this prejudice apparently leads to discrimination, notably in employment, since Muslims are refused jobs because of the suspicion surrounding them. In particular, women who wear the Islamic headscarf encounter difficulties of access to jobs, housing and goods and services for the public. Muslims are also vulnerable to discrimination in matters of naturalisation.”