Politics of Fear: 1. Minarets: 0.

The people have spoken, the results from the referendum are in, and the Swiss have voted to ban the construction of minarets in their country.

We pointed out yesterday that the referendum in Switzerland calling for this ban was going to be a close call, but that the proposal was likely to be rejected. Now the votes have been counted, we can see  how wrong the opinion polls were — in the end it wasn’t even close, with 57% voting for the ban.

A selection of random thoughts on this matter:

1) The Swiss public voted for the ban despite all sorts of warnings about possible financial backlash from Muslim countries. Not surprising, as fear will often trump economics.

2) Minarets were described as the thin edge of the wedge for the Islamisation of Europe. In fact, I would argue that the ban may by the thin edge of the wedge that leads to the persecution of Muslims throughout Europe.

3) The Swiss have a long history of fear and persecution of Others. During the Middle Ages, the Jews were more oppressed and persecuted in Switzerland than in any other European country.

4) Swiss nationalists have offered no clear indication as to what characteristics of Swiss-ness that are threatened by Muslims. Instead, they can only point to what they don’t like, and that’s anything Islamic. It seems like Muslims have become the new Jews of Europe.

5) It is disturbing the vast amount of xenophobic letters/public comments in various British and US newspapers commending the Swiss vote and requesting that they too should be holding similar referendums in their own countries. A selection:

Chris from London wrote:
Looks like at least *some* people have not been emasculated by political correctness. Well done, Switzerland!
Mary Jay wrote:
Celebrating today with a big hunk of Swiss chocolate. Yahooo!
Barry London wrote:
I’m off to the petrol station to buy a Toblerone and i’m coming to switzerland on holiday as soon as i can. I’m glad that they will still have a Swiss identity when i get there, unlike many parts of Britain that not only do i not recognise, but i feel out of place and threatened in.

6) The Wall Street Journal gives some faint praise to the Swiss for confronting the symbols of Islam and not burying their head in the sand as the rest of Europe does because of “political correctness and cowardice.” I say “faint praise” because the Journal doesn’t think the Swiss have gone far enough.

7) Majority rule by direct referendum sounds appealing but is not always a successful form of democracy as majorities cannot always be trusted to make wise or humanitarian decisions.  Capital punishment would be legal  and ethnic minorities wouldn’t have the vote in many countries if these “issues” went to referendum.

All in all, a day of shame for the Swiss and for democratic majority opinion.


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