Sunday, November 29, 2009

Switzerland Votes For Islamophobia

ISLAMOPHOBIA IS A GROTESQUE BOIL ON THE BODY POLITIC in countries throughout the West. It is used by wing-nuts and psychopaths like Pat Robertson to justify the War On Terror. And it is certainly the subtext even amongst mainstream politicians - as witnessed by the bizarre campaign by the Tories to ban women from wearing the niqab (dress worn by conservative Muslim women that includes a face covering). Given that there are an exceedingly small number of women in Canada who wear the niqab, the hub-bub was nothing more than a racist whip-up by the Conservatives to please their right-wing base. But this sort of right-wing nonsense is ultimately an issue of civil rights.
The insanity of Islamophobia and its dangers has been made clear by a referendum vote on Sunday in Switzerland, which banned the building of any more minarets - the towers outside of mosques traditionally used to call the faithful to prayer. The vote passed by 57 percent after a campaign that was explicitly anti-Muslim and led by the far-right Swiss People's Party. Switzerland has 400,000 Muslims - 6 percent of the population - who are having their civil rights denied to them - there has been no ban on church towers. So much for the nation of religious tolerance.

Of 150 mosques or prayer rooms in Switzerland, only 4 have minarets and only 2 more minarets are planned. None conduct the call to prayer.
Close to 90 percent of Muslims in Switzerland are from Kosovo and Turkey and do not adhere to the codes of dress and conduct associated with conservative Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, said Manon Schick, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International in Switzerland.
Muslim leaders have tried to keep out of the spotlight and to avoid internationalizing the issue, shunning interviews with most news media from Muslim countries, according to Mr. Ibram.
Still, the campaign was accompanied by sporadic shows of hostility. In two separate incidents last week, vandals damaged Geneva’s main mosque by throwing stones and a pot of paint. On another occasion, Mr. Ibram said, a van pulled up outside the mosque early in the morning, loudly blaring a recording of the call to prayers through loudspeakers.
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