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Minarets in Switzerland

New minarets built in Switzerland

You may or may not be aware of the recent 2009 referendum banning the construction of minarets in Switzerland; you may not know about the Libya-Switzerland conflict going on right now, and I’m not going to go into the details (if you want to know more, click the links).

But living in Switzerland, if you read the paper at all, or talk to any Swiss people, the subject will probably come up. The issue has been mentioned every single day in the local paper that I read, and just the other day, I saw these “minarets” on the side of the road and thought it was a pretty clever idea.

The truth is (according to Wiki and a couple other sources) that there are maybe 4 minarets in the whole of Switzerland! (if you’re wondering, that’s not a lot)
I’m not taking sides here, but I do find it a bit strange that there would be a need to legally ban the construction of minarets here in Switzerland by amending the constitution.

What started as a small, local disagreement turned into a national campaign to save the countryside from un-Swiss, foreign religious architecture. To me, it seems a little extreme. It’s not as if the place is being overrun with minarets. In fact, I haven’t even seen a single one since I’ve been here (bar the ones pictured above). It seems to me that this constitutional amendment would bring more harm than good. Even now, in the conflict with Libya–though it was initially born amidst different circumstances–the subject of the minarets has not been ignored, and it has given Libya one more piece of evidence in the case against Switzerland.

By no means am I implying that Libya is right in its “jihad” against Switzerland, on the contrary. However, it has been rather convenient for Libya to use the referendum in convincing the Arab League that Switzerland is a “racist” country, thus gaining further support in its tiff with the neutral country.

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