More on Ummid: International l National Regional l Politics Sports Religion l History l Culture l Education



SC gives lifer to 6 for Dalit killings, urges to abolish caste system

Mausam Noor Cong MP from Malda weds classmate

AFMI Sir Syed award for 2009 goes to Mumbarak Kapdi

Eboo Patel, Obama's India-born adviser wins award

No regretting Babri demolition: Mohan Bhagwat

Anti Riots Bill: Left cautious, BJP objects some provisions

Babri Masjid Demolition: Alerts in states on Anniversary Day

On 25th Anniversary, Bhopal Gas Tragedy Survivors.....


Liberhan report, demolition anniversary, but Ayodhya calm: The Liberhan Commission report might be creating ripples in the corridors of power in New Delhi.... Read Full

'Court verdict or negotiated accord only solution to Ayodhya'

No regretting Babri demolition: Mohan Bhagwat

Swiss referendum on Minaret ban receiving widespread condemnation: The Swiss People's Party's referendum..... Read Full

Only Muslim lady in Maharashtra cabinet at work to bring surprising turnaround


Chidambaram’s ‘Hindu Terrorist’ remark in RS irks BJP: Indulging in hate campaign against Indian Muslims for years while taking political mileage out of the dirty propaganda.... Read Full

Liberhan report, demolition anniversary, but Ayodhya calm: The Liberhan Commission report might be creating ripples in the corridors of power in New Delhi. And preparations for the 17th anniversary of the demolition.... Read Full

Only Muslim lady in Maharashtra cabinet at work to bring surprising turnaround: Mrs. Fauzia Khan is the first Muslim lady who took the oath as a minister in Maharashtra Government.... Read Full

Listen To The Muslim Woman’s Voice:

India’s largest minority population lives in poverty and socio-economic exclusion even after 62 years of Independence....Read Full


More on ummid


Ishrat Killing: SC stays further proceedings in Gujarat HC: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday stayed all further proceedings in the Ishrat Jahan case in the Gujarat High .... Read Full

Celebrating Bakra Eid in Mumbai: In the city of Mumbai, where Muslims number about 3 million, in a total Metropolitan population of 13.6 million, the difficulties that Muslim face in carrying.... Read Full

Book Review

Reformist Voices of Islam—Mediating Islam and Modernity: ‘Reformist Islam’, today an oft-heard slogan, is notoriously difficult to define, for it can mean different ....Read Full

Film Review

Shifting Prophecy: Countering the stereotypical image of Muslim women as silent victims of patriarchy, the award-winning film ‘Shifting Prophecy’ highlights..... Read Full

Role of Vajpayee in Babri Masjid demolition: civilised mukhauta of uncivil Sangh: Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the civilised mukhauta (mask) of the uncivil Sangh, has always had his way.... Read Full

A Vision for Muslim Empowerment: Having served for several years as the amir of the Jamaat-e Islami’s Kerala wing, Siddiq Hasan was appointed as the head of the Social Service.... Read Full



Minaret message to Muslims in Europe

Sunday, December 06, 2009 11:14:20 AM, Iman Kurdi

Minaret ban referendum wins Swiss support: Voters in Switzerland have approved a ban on the construction of minarets on mosques, official results show.Of those who cast votes in Sunday's poll, 57.5 per cent approved the ban, while only four cantons.... Read Full

Swiss referendum on Minaret ban receiving widespread condemnation: The Swiss People's Party's referendum to ban the construction of Minaret in Switzerland that won the support from majority...... Read Full

Empty Swiss accounts, Turkish minister urges Muslims

The Swiss people have voted: They do not want minarets in their landscape. The first reaction from the European establishment was condemnation and indignation, and then slowly, other voices are coming to the fore. The reality is that the Swiss have simply told the truth: If you call a referendum and ask people whether they want places of worship of other religions in their neighborhood, the majority is likely to say no.


Except that it is not places of worship per se that the Swiss have banned, and on this they are right. A minaret is not strictly necessary in a Muslim place of worship; a mosque without a minaret is still a mosque. The role of the minaret is to call people to prayer and in this day and age, technology has replaced the need for it. The minaret has thus become an emblem of Islam, part of its architecture and history, but you cannot argue that banning minarets stops people from practicing their faith. If the Swiss had banned the construction of mosques or of Muslim prayer rooms, then that would be an infringement of the rights of Muslims to practice their faith, but that is not the case.


The Swiss have taken a hard knock. To read some of the papers you could easily believe that Switzerland is a land of racists who are fervently anti-Muslim. This is not entirely fair to the Swiss.


For a start, I would wager that if you undertook the same referendum in say France or the Netherlands, you would get the same result. That’s the problem with referendums: They’re democratic. Whereas local councils, ministers, government officials, planning officers and all the other bolts of bureaucratic decision-making have to follow principles and procedures to justify the validity of the decisions they make, the public at large don’t have to. Ask the man on the street if he would like to have a symbol of another religion loom tall over the local horizon and the knee-jerk answer is, no thanks. Ask him whether he would like to have a mosque in his back yard and the answer is also likely to be no thanks.


And let’s not be hypocrites. If you held a referendum in a Muslim country asking whether the construction of new church steeples should be permitted, you are also likely to get an overwhelming no.

So let us not brand this a Swiss phenomenon and let us also remember that it is not the majority of the Swiss population that supported the ban but the majority of those who voted, which if you do the maths comes to 30 percent of the population.


Again that is part of the problem with holding referendums. Only those with strong opinions for or against will make the effort to vote. It is by its very nature a polarizing process.


What is more interesting is why the question was asked in the first place. There are up to 400,000 Muslims in Switzerland representing roughly five percent of the Swiss population. The early arrivals were mainly from Turkey whilst the recent surge in Muslim migrants has come from the breakup of the former Yugoslavia who now make up the bulk of Swiss Muslims. In other words, Swiss Muslims blend fairly well with the rest of the population. And yet the campaign against the construction of minarets depicted that beloved symbol of the anti-Muslims, that seriously scary figure: The woman in a burqa.


The French are considering a law to ban the wearing of the burqa in France and yet only a tiny minority of French Muslim women wear it. The Swiss have voted an amendment to change their constitution to ban the building of minarets and yet there are only a total of four minarets in the country.


This leads to at least two conclusions. First, it is the visibility of Islam that is at issue. A woman wearing a burqa stands out. She is immediately recognizable as Muslim. Similarly a minaret puts a Muslim stamp on the landscape. It states that in this land Muslims exist side by side with the Christian majority, that they are now part of the country’s cultural identity.


Partly this is a legacy of secularism. There is distaste not so much for Islam as for the idea of religion being visible and public.


Essentially the message sent by Swiss voters and now repeated across Europe is one that could be summed up by a French proverb: “To live well, live hidden”. In other words, you can practice your religion, but only privately and discreetly. Moreover, there is the idea that Muslims who choose to live in a European country should adopt the ways of the land. The onus is on them to adopt the local culture and the fear is that the opposite will happen.


Second, the fear is not of the moderate Muslims who have been living peacefully in Switzerland — or France, or Britain, or Germany — but of the influence of the extremists and the potential for, let us call them Westernized Muslims, to turn into the burqa-wearing missile-wielding terrorists of the Swiss posters.


There is undoubtedly a growing paranoia against Muslims and Islam as a religion. There are aspects of Islam or of the way it is practiced in certain countries that are unpalatable to Western thinking. If you listen carefully, the message you hear is not that Muslims are not welcome, but that a perceived movement toward a more radical form of Islam is ringing alarm bells. The problem is that by voting in such laws you achieve the exact opposite effect and create the very tension that can lead to radicalization.

(Courtesy: Arab News.

The author can be contacted at





  Bookmark and Share

Home | Top of the Page

  Comment on this article

E-mail Address:
Write here...
 Home | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Terms of Use | About Us | Feedback

Ummid Business: Advertise with us | Careers | Link Exchange is part of Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and condition mentioned.