Monday, 30 November 2009

When architecture becomes a religious matter

The world is appalled at the Swiss decision to ban minarets in the country. I find that to be kind of intolerant, yes, but it's their country and they decide to do whatever they want in it. Banning minaret doesn't mean banning mosques, it just means to ban this big tower which, and I agree, doesn't fit with the Swiss architectural style.

The main function of a minaret is to call for prayer five times a day. But since putting the speakers and praying out loud is anyway forbidden in Switzerland, there's no need to have them at all. So technically what is being banned is an architectural style. I don't see the Americans complaining about the lack of skyscrapers in Switzerland.

The media is making a big fuss about it and I think they should relax as it's not that big a deal. Let's see, can a Christian go to church in Saudi Arabia? No, because all other religions are banned in the Kingdom and you have no right whatsoever to practice any other religion than Islam.

Isn't that worse than what Switzerland is doing? Yes it is. Does anybody say anything about it? No, because as long as we keep them happy, they sell us their oil for cheap.

Swiss are not racists; they could be rude, arrogant, strict and unpleasant at times but I have never experienced racism here - even when I went outside of Geneva. I think the Swiss have the courage to say out loud what everybody in Europe is thinking quietly in their little dirty minds.

Switzerland is the country that came out with these ads (below), so when you come to Switzerland, you kind of know what to expect. Maybe it's not something to be particularly proud of as a Swiss, but the Swiss just don't like to feel invaded by something other than their own values. Example: Swiss aren't even part of the EU (even though it's all around them), they only became part of the UN in 2002 (even though the second largest UN building is in Geneva) and they don't want the adopt the Euro (even though they are surrounded by the Euro-zone).

So relax Muslims, it's not personal. Switzerland is playing hard-to-get with everyone and it's working!


  1. I Don't agree Fadi. Yes, what's happening is Saudi Arabia is worse and it also should be condemned, but Swiss ARE racists (trust me on this one, ive been living here all my life, and could spend an entire evening telling you stories about racists behaviour that either I, my father or my close friends have endured). Besides, I consider this vote stigmatizing, and what's more, against the Swiss Constitution. Sure, Muslims in Switzerland can live without the minarets, but it is, just as the clocher for Churches, part of their sacred places, and thus should be respected. There are only two minarets in Switzerland, and they have never bothered anyone. Why ban them now? What are the Swiss afraid of?
    I'm sorry, democracy has spoken, but sometimes, I'd exchange democracy to a modern dictatorship anytime.

  2. This goes beyond architecture. The Swiss are afraid of the islamisation of their country. Unfortunately, Islam doesn't have such a good image in the West because of all the extremists - so because of that minority, the majority of muslims (the good people) are all put in the same basket.

    Plus, the Yes camp of this election had a far bigger communication campaign than the No camp. So the populace (the ignorant part of the population representing an unfortunate majority of a country) got scared and voted in favour of the ban. Just like when the French voted for Le Pen a few years ago.

    I am convinced that the Swiss are not racist; they are discreet people and everything should be discreet - even religion. And I say this in a NON-OFFENDING way: Islam is not really the most discreet of religions.

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  5. Toby's right because he's Swiss! But also, Paola, you say that the minarets are part of their sacred places as are the clochets on the churches.

    But then, isn't the "praying out loud" also part of the muslim sacred practice? Why didn't they complain when the Swiss told them they couldn't do that? Is it because muslims considered the speakers to be indeed "pushing it too far"?

    Hence, the muslims can adapt their religious practices. They just shall consider that their host country, Switzerland, thinks the minarets are "a bit too much" and now they'll have to work through it (and maybe convince the Swiss otherwise).

  6. I'm not sure I agree at all. This is missing the "real issues."

    1. Is Switzerland a Confederation or a Federation? To my mind Switzerland is a confederation(CH=Confoederatio Helevetica). This implies that such issues should be Cantonal not Federal. If CH is turning "federal" a la US, I suggest changing the name of the country to FH.

    2. Fadi, you are being characteristically "French" by taking for granted that it is the role of a government, to pass laws that determine what you can build. This is terrible news for any society that pretends to be free. Or maybe Switzerland, like France, is becoming dirigiste and therefore evil.

    3. I'm not sure I agree with the comparison to other countries. Two wrongs don't make a right!

  7. 1. Calling it FH? LOVE IT.

    2. I agree that these are things should be decided on a cantonal basis, I never said otherwise and this is why the bill is under discussion as it could be unconstitutional - but O.H, you are missing the point. The bill passed and people are making a big fuss about it and calling the Swiss racists. This is what I am defending in my post - not whether it's an CH or an FH.

    3. What the KSA is doing is wrong because it's a human right violation. What CH is doing is wrong because they are making it a Federal thing; clearly different "wrongs". Hence my point is to focus on the real human right violation and not on the Swiss architectural crisis.

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