The poster that convinced Switzerland to ban minarets


92 Responses to “The poster that convinced Switzerland to ban minarets”

  1. TK says:

    It’s just too easy to put NIN in front of that JA.

  2. Malvolio says:

    With all this butt-hurtitude going around, are we ever going to mention most Muslim countries forbid churches? Not “steeples”, not “brightly lit towers” — the actual churches are outlawed.

    I actually went to a church service in Indonesia, held in the bar at Ambhara Hotel in Jakarta. I was trying to get a drink one Sunday morning…

    • Anonymous says:

      “With all this butt-hurtitude going around, are we ever going to mention most Muslim countries forbid churches? Not “steeples”, not “brightly lit towers” — the actual churches are outlawed.”

      oooh. The old “most Muslim countries.” AND the old “some oppressive countries have backwards, discriminatory laws and bad human rights records. why isn’t it okay when we do it?”


      Do you think it’s wrong that some Muslim countries ban churches? If so, then do you think it is somehow rectified by wrongness in other countries, countries which are supposed to be holding up the values of fairness that you seem to be espousing? If not, what’s your point?

      Secondly, what is a “Muslim country,” in your definition? How many Muslim countries are there? Which of them, and which percentage of them, ban churches?

  3. pixleshifter says:

    @the chemist
    “Ah, the totalitarian Atheist. I was waiting for one to make their appearance. There is nothing less deserving of sympathy than a self-righteous fascist.”

    firstly, no sympathy is being sought, secondly fascism and atheism are two separate subjects. thirdly, any comment with an opinion can be construed as self-righteous, including your statement i’ve just quoted.
    let’s do a thought experiment and reverse the tables.
    imagine iran has just had a majority vote not to allow any church steeples to be built. we’d see a lot of comments stating that it’s their country, it was a majority vote, and they have a right to determine their own direction.
    so do you believe in a democratic system or not? even when the outcome is not to your liking.
    yes it was a stupid propagandist poster, but you either have to accept the will of the majority or you have to let your government make your decisions for you. personally i’m not sure which is the scarier option.

    • The Chemist says:

      First of all, and I admit freely that this has nothing to do with your statement, you don’t capitalize the first letter of your damn sentences. Once again, it doesn’t make you right or wrong, but it’s incredibly annoying to see basic pragmatic readability-oriented grammar ignored. By all means, make the occasional typo, misuse the semi-colon and split all your infinitives, but learn to capitalize. In terms of etiquette it’s right up there with paragraph breaks and periods.

      Now that that’s out of the way, you said,

      let’s do a thought experiment and reverse the tables.
      imagine iran has just had a majority vote not to allow any church steeples to be built. we’d see a lot of comments stating that it’s their country, it was a majority vote, and they have a right to determine their own direction.
      so do you believe in a democratic system or not? even when the outcome is not to your liking.

      I don’t see what this has to do with my comment. In fact, it has less to do with my comment than a fish has with a Zippo. I was saying that in your quaint little solution- which basically amounts to taking freedoms and liberties away from people- there lies a deeper implication and there is a word for this: Fascism. You’re in favor of it, and you are the exception among Atheists (although I’ve found that you’re not quite so uncommon as this exception goes) that proves the following general rule: No ideological group is immune from the inclination to oppress.

      However, I will humor your question. Democracy and liberty are not the same thing. As I stated in an earlier post on the same issue: In a Venn diagram of freedom and democracy, neither circle is wholly subsumed in the other. (or something to that effect.) You can have democracy without freedom and freedom without democracy.

      Egalitarian democracies (that’s a kind of democracy- YES! There’s variety!) strike a balance by creating an all-or-none social contract. Either you accept a general set of rights for all, or you destroy the edifice that protects you in order to pursue a more parochial course of action. Of course, no system is perfect, and the Swiss action remains morally indefensible. In other words, you posit a false dilemma, and the funny part about it is that you seem to find your own argument eminently persuasive. I would love to play chess with you. You’re just the type to pull an expensive gambit early-on and call out “check-mate!” without really looking to make sure it’s not simply a check.

      As for eliminating religion altogether, well, keep trying to plow the sea. Let me know how that goes.

  4. zyodei says:

    Look at the situation from the eyes of a Muslim, a people with generally a stronger sense of history than westerners:

    Over the last fifty years, many feel the west has launched a fourth crusade. We’ve given boatloads of weapons to a pro-western, anti-arabic government on a patch of land that just happens to be the prize of the crusaders. Bagdhad, the crown jewel of the muslim world, is in ruins. Mecca and Medina are controlled by a US-allied group of thugs who use the riches of the region to buy western luxury goods. Persia is surrounded by troops and threatened with war daily.

    Considering the seeming futility of any military response to this, I would find it very surprising if there is not at least some movement in the Muslim consciousness to strike back in a subtle manner, by exploiting the relative ease of immigrating to their aggressors and changing the demographics of those countries over the next 50 years.

    Not that banning minarets will have any positive effect.

    But one possible blowback of imperial ambitions is yet another religiously motivated political presence in the west that will support deliberalizing laws and social customs.

  5. jossaha says:

    Women’s suffrage:

    Iran: 1963
    Switzerland: 1971

    Yet the “No Minarets” campaign had co-operation from Swiss feminists. Nice-one Swiss feminists.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it’s just me having played to much PoP, but if that poster reflected ANY kind of potential Switzerland, I would be delighted to go there. The actual one, not at all.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The poster itself didn’t sway that many votes towards the ban but it is representative of the fears people have. But I can’t see how anyone Muslim could be outraged about this. The same type of ban is happening in Saudi Arabia with any religion that isn’t Muslim on an even larger scale. I say this knowing that they only represent a small fraction of the religion. The few Muslims I’ve known have been insanely courteous and hospitable and it pains me to think that the leaders of countries/religion default to fear instead of reason.

  8. 2k says:

    Apparently it’s ok for a majority of people to decide to ostracise a religious sect and tell folks they can’t marry one another but when a majority of people want to own slaves and deny women the vote it ‘just isn’t the same’.

    Majorities of people. Go figure.

  9. Teller says:

    Never thought of European, Asian or African nations as melting pots – as we Americans think of America. I think that’s why the Swiss vote doesn’t shock me – unless I apply my experience of nationhood to a nation which has a different conception of it.

  10. pixleshifter says:

    @the chemist
    it’s true that i don’t capitalise the first letters of my sentences, call it lazy. my single-handed typing tends to make me that way so i avoid the shift key often. there’s often not a whole lot wrong with my grammar though. i capitalise only formal texts, so i apologise for annoying you and offending your literary sensibilities.

    it seems that your comment had little to do with my first comment either as you accused me of fascism where none existed. your second comment then accuses me of wanting to take people’s liberties away which seems also to be reading a little too much inbetween my lines.
    an opinion of wanting to see less religious institutions built, faith schools scrapped and religion taxed is hardly tantamount to oppression. faith schools segregate, religion segregates on a larger scale and churches have been milking tax-free money from the gullible public for far too long. by all means worship whichever imaginary friend you choose, but don’t fleece your flock and don’t separate your children based on your own ideologies.
    have you been calling the muslims fascists in those countries that don’t allow churches or is it a one-sided stance?

    as for your comment on chess, you are again making statements about me that you seem to have pulled out of a hat with absolutely no prior knowledge of my prowess whatsoever.
    who knows? maybe i’d kick your ass. then again maybe backgammon’s my thing. or poker. keep throwing mud, i’ll let you know when some sticks

  11. A couple of relevant facts. a) Only 1 in 10 Swiss Muslims actually attends mosque. That’s 0.6% of the Swiss population – hardly a “scary” percentage. 2) Most Swiss Muslims are European in origin, many of them being refugees from the Balkan was in the 1990s (another high point for Christian tolerance). I probably see more women in burqas on an average visit to my local supermarket than most Swiss see in a year.

    The whole thing is utterly shameful. If I were a capitalist, I’d be cornering the market in yellow sew-on crescents.

  12. Tzctlp says:

    f y blv n dmcrcy: why d y spprt slm?

    f y spprt gndr qlty: why d y crtcz fmnsts fr fghtng gnst slm?

    Lk bys nd gls, thnk t s nt ncssry fr m t rmnd y hw bckwrd slmc scts r, jst th mst rcnt xmpl cn rmmbr f ths:


    Th prblm s tht mny Wstrn pltcns d nt fc th ss strght n, ths lvs th drs pn t fr mngrs nd xtrmsts.

    Mslms n Wstrn scts by dfntn ndrmn dmcrtc vls (t s ll n th Krn lds nd gnts) snc wmn r sbsrvnt t mn, thy ls ndrmn th hrd fght prncpl f sprtn btwn rlgn nd stt snc thy s th sprtn s gnst Krnc prncpls nd n gnrl trms wsh fr ths sprtn t g wy.

    S ths my b crd rctn t prblm tht s crtnly mnr n Swtzrlnd, bt y r rlly flng yrslvs f y thnk slm strngthns dmcrtc vls n Wstrn scts.

    nfrtntly mnstrm pltcns cn’t mk ths pnt ny mr, s wdly xmplfd n ths thrd, s th rcsts nd xnphbs wll fll ths vd ( hv nthng gnst slm n slmc scts, thr cntry, thr wy f lf, nd dsps th mstrtmnt f Mslm cntrs nd ppls, Plstn bng cs tht shld pt shm n ll Wstrn cntrs, bt tht ds nt mn tht wnt thr vls t wn mr prvlnc n dmcrtc scts).

  13. Xopher says:

    Oh, and just out of curiosity, should we assume that with regards to same-sex-marriage California is no better than Saudi Arabia?

    Just so.

    With regard to gay rights in general one could not say that, of course.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Please have a look at two of the SVP’s other well known posters:

    It should give a good idea of where they are coming from.

  15. steepholm says:

    @tzctlp Look boys and gals, I think it is not necessary for me to remind you how backward Islamic societies are, just the most recent example I can remember of this:

    Oh, great argument! Let’s see if I understand how it works. Here goes…

    I think it is not necessary for me to remind you how backward Christian societies are, just the most recent example I can remember of this:

    And so another world religion bites the dust. /sarcasm

  16. ian_b says:

    What’s the big deal? Marionettes have always creeped me out, especially that scene from the sound of music. Didn’t that take place in Sweden too?

  17. peterbruells says:

    To steal a joke from a discussion board: The wording of the the law actually doesn’t discriminate, as it forbids anyone to build a minaret.

    Now, before anyone howls in rightful indignation: Couldn’t this be used against the ban?

    Start a theme park and and build a minaret as part of a 1001 Nights settings.

    And of course, build a mosque an give it a steeple.

    • the Other michael says:

      uh, what?

      so, if I passed a law forbidding everyone from using wheelchairs, that wouldn’t be discriminatory, right?

      Or if I passed a law mandating the eating of pork, that wouldn’t be discriminatory, because it applies to everyone, right?

      • peterbruells says:

        @theothermichael What part of “joke” did you not understand? I mean, you obviously understand the concept, as you apparently find it perfectly acceptable to slur the vast majority of native English speakers.

        Let me spell it out for your: It was a joke. It was marked as joke. It alludes to a quite relevant quite by Anatole France. So, pardon my German, but leave my ass alone.

        But I do wonder why you picked on that obvious nothing, instead of the two ideas I offered to fight that reprehensible addition in a civil manner that might people think instead instead of triggering their “them vs us”-reflex.

  18. Anonymous says:

    From the NYT:
    “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.”

    This is not a zoning issue. It is an aggressive message sent by right wing Swiss, supported by a majority of Swiss voters. My only hope is the new law is interpreted as banning new church steeples too.

  19. pieceoplastic says:

    i am a swiss citizen and i can’t begin to tell you how ashamed i feel about this scandalous result. many of my compatriots feel the same way and would like nothing more than to apologize to the rest of the world and the muslim world in particular. helas, 57% of my fellow countrymen voted yes to a proposition, that should have never been allowed to hit the ballot, since it stands in clear violation of UN rights regulations.

    swiss democracy is a strange beast, the initiative and referendum system makes sure that anything that collects enough signatures from citizens makes it onto the ballots. as an example in the 90s of the last century we were allowed to vote to abolish our army, which didn’t pass, but was still a fantastic example of direct democracy. also on the ballot this last weekend was a proposition that stemmed from a more leftist background to forbid exports of all war materials. you guessed it, that did not pass. the sunday night satirical joke was then, the muslim world is shocked that no more minarets can be built in switzerland, but at least they can still order their guns from us.

    with this current proposition against minarets i personally know a few people who voted yes, and suspect many more people did the same, thinking it would never pass anyway, voting yes just to make a point, and were then almost shocked that it did pass. and with such a clear result.

    one thing that has been a recurrent theme in these right wing extremist campaigns is the quality of their graphic art. about two years ago they adopted a very modern style of graphic art to campaign for their xenophobic agenda. i keep wondering which graphic agency would donate their talent to do these jobs. i will now look into this.
    here’s two examples of previous campaigns:

    not sure if links are allowed in these comments. if you are interested what i find out please feel free to contact me.

  20. Anonymous says:

    reading the more political posts on boingboing is depressing.

    it reminds me how ‘enlightened’ and ‘educated’ people are still just… people. stupid, ignorant, prejudiced.

    the world might be worth fighting for, but it ain’t beautiful – in what what is “Der Bau von Minaretten ist verboten” a positive development for an open democratic society?

    So what if the Saudis and the Taliban types have done x, y or z. They’re evil, and that’s not the kind of world most humans want to live in.

    Democratic societies *should* know and do better – the Swiss suck for giving in to the dark side. When democratic societies do as the Swiss have done, it is a massive failure on their part. Tolerance, democracy and freedom are such hard things to develop in a society, and make up so little of all of human history (vs. intolerant dictatorships) and so easily lost.

  21. mryan says:

    I’m not trying to excuse the votes of the swiss people… but here are some thought about why some of the less educated part of switzerland may have voted yes to the people’s initiative to ban minarets.

    A lot of misinformed people thought of minarets as loud buildings (call for prayer in arabic like in the world’s most fundamentalist muslim countries, since there are only 4 of them in switzerland, most of the inhabitants have never seen an actual minaret).

    The swiss people also wanted to get even with Libya somehow (there are still two swiss hostages there, and all diplomatic attempts to get them back have failed, and this has taken some big proportions in the medias here). The response is completely inappropriate… but the less educated part of the population tends to generalize a lot.

    Since the initiative seemed to have no real direct consequence on the people’s everyday life… all there was left to vote for were ideas and phantasms. The german speaking part of the SSP managed to gain the votes of the people, speaking about forced marriage and women submission (probably getting some socialists votes in the process).

    The french speaking part (UDC), did not manage to convince so well… hence the difference in the result for Vaud, Genève and Neuchâtel.

  22. mikesum32 says:

    We need more people to vote like that here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.


  23. Anonymous says:

    surprising that the Swiss voted for a non-secular constitutional amendment

  24. Hawley says:

    those minarets kinda look like missiles, surely the swiss public didn’t want any dirty sand people building missiles in their backyards.

    • peterbruells says:

      @hawley it’s probably alluding to a poem by Erdogan, now president of Turkey.

      „The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…“ It’s probably takenout of context and much more peaceful in the original Klingon.

  25. petezombie says:

    I think the most important thing to understand is that this poster represents the Swiss People’s Party’s views on Muslims and Minarets and not the Swiss people. Even though Switzerland is a small country it is impossible to make judgements about them as a single nation seeing as how they have four national languages.

    Its interesting to note that three out of the four cantons that rejected the referendum were Francophone cantons. I can see why places like Vaud and Geneva would reject it because of their large immigrant populations and exposer to different cultures.

  26. dexcox says:

    those germans , they even used the same font:

  27. Daniel says:

    I don’t mean to be offensive with the europeans reading this.

    From what I see, it seems to be that a medieval-like exclusive-european desire is recurrent in Europe, and when unitary projects appear (like the Holy Roman Empire, UE, …), the sentiment becomes more evident.

    Many anti non-european (immigration laws in Italy and Spain e.g.) laws and popular behaviours (bullying against non europeans) are quite frequent nowadays. Of course, they cannot mess with jews again, or at least right now, because all that holocaust stuff (expect atrocities in one or two hundred years or so), but the new abstract, stereotypical, ‘en vogue’ imaginary fear figure right now is a suicide bomber, whose wife wears long dresses and goes to pray against the infidel, in a non-indoeuropean language, in places that have a tower that resembles a ballistic missile.

    What’s next? Outlawing the muslim people? Prohibition of the arabic alphabet? Genetic proofs requiring people to be arab-free? Concentration camps? Is a new holocaust -a muslim holocaust- coming?

    Oh Charlemagne… what have you done?

    Please stop the nonsense! Learn from history and transcend the apparently perpetual and infinite human stupidity by not repeating the same errors!

  28. The Chemist says:

    personally i’d rather see no new mosques or churches going up at all. scrap faith schools and start taxing religious institutions. it’s the goddamn 21st century already. time to put all that crap behind us and get on with the business of knowledge already.

    Ah, the totalitarian Atheist. I was waiting for one to make their appearance. There is nothing less deserving of sympathy than a self-righteous fascist.

  29. AirPillo says:

    I hate to Godwin the topic, but frankly the impression hit me the second I saw the image and slightly before my eyes actually went to the headline to read it:

    This looks quite similar to the anti-semitic propaganda of WWII Germany.

    The composition, the use of stark colors, the type of symbolism involved… this is all creepily close to the posters seeking to terrify people of the threat posed by Jews in Germany.


    • Anonymous says:

      All Swiss People’s Party (SPP) ads and posters are designed by an advertisement company ‘Goal’ (funnily, their boss is German, but I guess that’s only coincidence). Sadly, this kind of propaganda is what SPP uses in all the initiatives and referendums they’re involved in (some other examples having been posted by earlier commenters)…

  30. phisrow says:

    That is pretty punchy.

  31. agger says:

    Yes, but Islam! They’re coming to get us and kill us in our sleep! OMG OMG Heeellp! We simply absolutely definitely need to prevent them from constructing any more brick towers or wielding dangerous pieces of clothing if we are to preserve our way of life. Oh heelllpp

  32. Anonymous says:

    I just think its funny that a country has nothing better to worry about investing its time and money in than to vote on whether or not a stick on a building is offensive. Have they solved all other problems? Has the country become so perfect that government has run out of things to “improve” or lobby for? The whole notion is ridiculous! Being xenophobic and racist I understand, superiority complex I understand, but to relate it all to a symbol on a building? Really? Who is that helpful to exactly that’s what I’d like to know!

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember, it’s not an legislation by the parliament (= government) but a people’s initiative where a right-wing party collected 100’000 signatures from citizens to have a vote. And, yes, of course it’s a perfect country – other nations comparing their public health to the fantastic one of Switzerland ;)

  33. mdh says:

    It only takes a couple generations for a great people to become smallminded and xenophobic. That is the lesson of history.

    • warreno says:

      Yes, unlike the small-minded and xenophobic Muslim radicals who are bombing, beheading and otherwise blowing up people whom they hate.

      Intolerance goes both directions. I don’t believe the Swiss began it, and frankly, I don’t blame them for their Islamophobia. It’s been hard-won.

      • Anonymous says:

        When have the Swiss ever been attacked by Muslim radicals, let alone ones that clearly mark their hide-outs with minarets?

      • mechko says:

        As opposed to the magnanimous, great-hearted Americans who work on a love and let live policy and would never torture or abuse people, never bomb civilian homes, or support the mass-disenfranchisement of the Muslim world…

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I don’t believe the Swiss began it< ?i>

        Yeah, you can’t pick up a newspaper without seeing a headline about Bosnian refugee suicide bombers in Geneva.

      • mdh says:

        Intolerance goes both directions. I don’t believe the Swiss began it, and frankly, I don’t blame them for their Islamophobia. It’s been hard-won.

        It’s almost like they’re on a crusade or something.

      • valdis says:

        “Yes, unlike the small-minded and xenophobic Muslim radicals who are bombing, beheading and otherwise blowing up people whom they hate.”

        At least here in the US, we have a *bigger* problem with small-minded and xenophobic Christian radicals who are bombing and shooting people who they hate.

        That McVeigh dude in Oklahoma City. Multiple attacks on abortion doctors. Branch Davidian. The whole skinhead, white supremacist, and militia underground.

  34. peterbruells says:

    I withdraw and apologize for the leave my ass alone comment. Crankyess early in the morning is no excuse for vulgar rudeness.

  35. the Other michael says:

    Eh, and I totally missed your lead-in (“To steal a joke from a discussion board: “)

    Cranky rudeness more than deserved.

    I’m going selectively (?) blind, it seems; I know I read it more than once, so how on earth? criminy.

  36. cymk says:

    Sure they look like missiles when you put a sharp point on them, but leave the onion shape on there and the silhouette looks more phallic than anything else. Not being Swiss I don’t understand the point of removing them.

  37. petezombie says:

    AirPillo this is not the first poster to come from the Swiss People’s Party that drew parallels with Nazi Propaganda ( However seeing as how the Swiss flag already has two of the Nazi colours I think that any Swiss national imagery is going to include these colours regardless. However if you look back at other Swiss People’s Party posters you’ll noticed that all the aggressors or problems in the posters are black or dark in colour. The black sheep, the black crows, the dark coloured hands (I find this one disputable cause there are a couple lighter pare of hands as well in the poster) and now this poster. I honestly think that the SPP have strong racial biases and xenophobic views regardless on how much they insist that they are not racist.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I lived in Switzerland a decade ago and this is, regrettably, business as usual for them. Some of the posters that I saw while living there included those for anti-immigration political measures featuring dark-skinned foreigners surrounded by things on fire. By comparison the above poster is tame. Anyone who’s lived in Switzerland as a foreigner knows that they have never been open-minded and this is par for the course.

  39. ali says:

    The vote was not about something substantial (in the sense of ‘real change’, there are about 4 minarets so far) but it was designed to be a vote-getter for the right wing Swiss People’s Party. They usually make this kind of radical proposals to be subsequently wining that everyone was against them and pretending they were the people’s David taking on the political correct Goliath. The same will happen once the court in Strasbourg will take on the law (and that will happen for sure).

    And to say Democracy is the tyranny of the majority (as many do here in Switzerland) is a extremely primitive understanding of democracy. I don’t know any democracy that really lives that. Representation, checks and balances are everywhere. Switzerland is built on these principles (modeled on the US constitution by the way).

    Despite being an atheist I would vote against a ban of all religious building as well as I opposed this initiative. This is because I think that religious freedom is more important than what I think to be true. It is worth noting, that this is exactly what 57% of the voters did not do. Putting a ban on the buildings of one specific group into the constitution is scandalous and this is what makes me angry. The Swiss people have shown blatant disregard for the rule of law and their constitution.

    I am angry and embarrassed to be Swiss and I am shocked to see that rampant bigotry and/or ignorance in that result. But I guess that is Switzerland too.

    [I wrote a Blogpost on this on my blog on in English because I thought it is important to make these voice heard too. If anyone cares you can read it here. Unfortunately reasonable voices and there are some are drowned in the shouts of joy of the right bigots for the moment]

  40. demidan says:

    Do they vibrate for her pleasure?

  41. Anonymous says:

    Oh please… It’s an ugly and shocking poster alright. But are you kidding? A poster did not send the swiss people voting against minarets. Ignorance and fear did. Ignorance because not all of them have the chance to live close to a muslim community (as do most people in swiss cities, who coincidently voted against the ban…) and fear because seriously, the moderate muslims have a big communication and public image problem. By the way what do you think would be the result if the same vote would be held elsewhere, in the U.S.? France? Belgium? Germany? Probably the same (but none of those countries is a direct democracy). Muslims should start convincing western democracies that islam and democracy as we see it can work together because there are real questions. So I guess this type of vote just tells us that it’s really about time to start discussing.

  42. Ted8305 says:

    How about multi-purpose towers? Build towers that are used as minarets on Friday, church towers on Sunday, and on Saturday the cellular reception is cut off for orthodox Jews ;)

  43. Anonymous says:

    as an American Muslim, I am very grateful and lucky to live in the United States. That kind of bullshit would never fly here.

    • mdh says:

      as an American Muslim, I am very grateful and lucky to live in the United States. That kind of bullshit would never fly here.

      My Mormon friends who like very tall well lit steeples would disagree with you somewhat.

      • phisrow says:

        If (sometimes, when your buddies can’t get you a variance) having to obey pre-existing zoning laws is the worst of your burdens, you have it pretty good.

        It is as Locke said: the state ought not to directly legislate for or against particular religious practices; but “religion” gives one no right to transgress laws duly enacted for other purposes that have an incidental effect on religious practices. Tall and/or brightly lit buildings are all kinds of a nuisance, and many zoning codes thus restrict them. As long as the rules are the same for the local god-box as they are for the burger joint, there is no problem.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Since when is it the religious majority should be asked to approve of the minority rights and religion?
    had it been the case there would have been only 1 big religion in the world.
    this is a gross breach of human rights, and freedom of worship, and a slap in the face of all moderate muslims around the world that took place in the heart of the west.

    i doubt all those who cracked our head bragging about democracy will voice a small concern about this dispicable action.

    and all those who say they do it why shouldnt we I say watch something else besides Fox vews..have you rednecks left your village once?..there are Giant churches in EVERY muslim country in the world (except saudi/their equivalent of Vatican)..there is a law in egypt that you cant fund building a mosque unless you fund building a church in the same neiborhood..if you walk in damascus or Karachi streets you will find hundreds of churches..
    this world is full of loud ignorant people

  45. Anonymous says:

    Simply appalling.

  46. arikol says:

    Wow… that is a really strong poster designed to get that lovely knee jerk reaction.

    What a nasty piece of propaganda. I can see why the general populace voted this way. If this exists (and that party finds it acceptable) that probably means that a campaign of intolerance has been mounted. And the uncool thing about their otherwise brilliant direct democracy system is that people can be swayed by senseless propaganda.

    And daniel # 47
    Yeah, because the US is made up of equality and unicorns.. don’t even go there. Equality means equal rights and equal access to necessities. Which includes education, healthcare, gender equality, sexual preference equality, religious equality, and more. Us doesn’t really have a good history in most of these categories.
    As soon as you can tell me that, to take two examples, gay rights and access to healthcare are equal to other peoples rights in the US then you can start talking about how unfair European countries are (Europe is actually not a country, but a continent with many very different countries, way to go lumping a whole continent together).

  47. Rindan says:

    And to say Democracy is the tyranny of the majority (as many do here in Switzerland) is a extremely primitive understanding of democracy. I don’t know any democracy that really lives that. Representation, checks and balances are everywhere. Switzerland is built on these principles (modeled on the US constitution by the way).

    Democracy is a reflection of the direct will of the majority of the people. Democracy doesn’t promise liberty, equality, or any of that nonsense. It just means that your government is going to reflect the will of the people. Sometimes the will of the people isn’t worthy. Sometimes you need roadblocks and barriers that are tossed down specifically to forbid the people from getting their way no matter how badly they think they want it. This is a great example. In the US, no matter how badly the people wanted this, the constitution would squelch it. It would take years to pass this sort of absurdity, and it would take buy in not just by a super majority, but by a super majority of politicians willing to nix the 1st amendment. Democratic? Nope, but that isn’t a bad thing. I’ll take freedom and liberty over democracy any day of the week.

    Democracy isn’t freedom, liberty, or any other warm and fuzzy ideal. It is just one of the better but clearly imperfect methods of trying to protect them. Democracy isn’t a worthy ideal, it is a tool to try and protect worthy ideals. Clearly, it isn’t always the right tool. I would take the undemocratic US 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights over Swiss direct democracy any day of the week.

    Don’t worship democracy. Worship what democracy is supposed to protect.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Don’t worship democracy. Worship what democracy is supposed to protect.

      Democracy is a best guess at providing happiness for the largest number of people. It’s not perfect and sometimes fails miserably. It just offers more long-term reliability than, say, autocracy.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Women’s suffrage:

    Iran: 1963
    Switzerland: 1971

    Much of the propaganda for ban appealed to ‘feminist’ concerns about the tenets of a religion. Nice one, European feminists-who-bomb

  49. Lester says:

    They do kind of look like missiles…very effective, and creepy, imagery.

    What would have happened in the US is that minaret-haters would have passed legislation that all minarets must also be windmills. That way NIMBYism would ensure that no minarets would ever be built.

  50. dragonfrog says:

    mdh – when were the Swiss a great people, exactly?

    I mean, the few people I got to know during my very short time in Switzerland definitely did not seem like smallminded xenophobes who would support such a ban. Clearly not every Swiss person is like that.

    It’s just that, Max Frisch’s Andorra is generally interpreted to be in reference to the Switzerland of a couple generations ago, you know?

  51. zyodei says:

    Hr s wht fnd wth rgrds t rs n gy bshngs n rp by yng Mslms:–19890.html

    *shrg* hrd t fnd vdnc t spprt th frst thr’s clms. Bt hs cntrl tnnt sms hrd t dny: f y gv vtng rghts t lrg ppltn tht s rlgsly mtvtd n thr pltcs, y wll hv lss tlrnt lws.

    bsltly spprt lttng th slmc wrld lv n pc nd nt bmbng th hll t f thm. Bt, slm S rgbly th lst tlrnt rlgn n th wrld tdy, vn mr s thn th wrst f th fndmntlst Chrstns, nd dspt ts gd spcts hv sm rl sss wth t.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:


      You’re off-topic.

    • peterbruells says:

      Note that Rundschau is a moderate/liberal newspaper.

      “Nur die wenigsten Täter werden daher auch zur Rechenschaft gezogen. Deswegen ist auch über sie wenig bekannt. Den Angaben der Opfer zufolge handelt es sich dabei jedoch meist um junge Männer zwischen 15 und 24 Jahren aus allen sozialen Schichten. Ein Teil von ihnen stammt demnach aus Einwandererfamilien, doch auch Täter aus deutschen Familien sind laut Maneo nicht selten.”

      The key points in a rough translation: “Perps get seldom caught, much less put on trial, that’s why not much is known about them. Victims claim perps are young males between 15 and 24, from all social classes. Partly from immigrant families, but perps fro German families are not rare.” The last one I find actually quite funny – “not rare” should be a given, considering that the vast majority of the population are German, of course.

      Interview with an openly queer CDU (the main right party in Germany) who claims increased violence and hostility against gays, which is increasing in migrant youths.

      Also, migrants have a higher percentage of antisemitic views than native Germans.

      Note that those are just trends – a clear majority of all migrants have no trouble adopting to the local values, but it varies from country of origin. Vietnamese children, for example, are usually above average in school, because their parents make that a priority.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Schweizer Kuhmist!!

  53. pixleshifter says:

    personally i’d rather see no new mosques or churches going up at all. scrap faith schools and start taxing religious institutions. it’s the goddamn 21st century already. time to put all that crap behind us and get on with the business of knowledge already.

  54. Rindan says:

    This is why I think democracy sucks. Don’t get me wrong, democracy is a fine way to conduct most business, but simple majority rule is a great way to see how unjust, stupid, and occasionally evil humans can be to each other. This is why I think the much beloved “direct democracy” is junk.

    Screw direct democracy. 50%+1 doesn’t make justice.

    Give me an ironclad constitution, separation of powers, independent judicial over view, and legislative bodies that take super majorities to function. For all of the faults of the American system, crap like this is why I prefer it.

    Someone mentioned that Americans might vote in a similar way. That might be true (though I would like to think that we have not achieve European levels Islamphobia yet), but it doesn’t matter. You couldn’t pass this law in the US. You would need to change the constitution, and to change the constitution you need to jump enough hurdles that it takes a super majority consensus and years of procedure and reviews even if you have that consensus. Both legislators and citizens can fairly easily kill it on the way to becoming law of the land.

    There is nothing just about 50%+1 of the population enforcing its will on the other 50%-1.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, exactly this happens all the time with the US system of two parties and indirect (representational) democracy, right? Bush vs. Gore, anyone?

    • davidasposted says:

      Voters deny the rights of minorities in the U.S. through direct democracy fairly often. Consider Prop 8 in California (November 2008) and Prop 1 in Maine (November 2009). In both states, the majority voted to prevent a minority from enjoying the same rights as they do for no other reason, generally speaking, than that the former don’t like the latter. In California, this took the form of an amendment to the state constitution, majority rules, simple as that.

  55. the Other michael says:

    There’s a reason those minarets look like those of Haiga Sophia — because the Haiga Sophia itself, once converted to a mosque, became the model for other Ottoman mosques, much in the same way the Byzantine Crescent and Star was re-purposed.

    Well, the minarets were added by the Ottomans; they weren’t original Byzantine.

  56. mdh says:

    when were the Swiss a great people, exactly?

    A very good question. It begs me to ask a qustion in response (rude, and I apologise) but,

    When were we (the US) a great people?

    The only answer I can come up with for both questions is “when we embraced pluralism”. Before we became smallminded and xenophobic and afraid of our own shadows.

  57. witness says:

    I have always thought the Swiss were an exception. I guess I am surprising right!!! The deep rooted hate of the people eventually show up. Democratic principles are again abused to dishonor the rights of others. A nation is not civilized by having Swiss Banks hoarding all immoral and illegal wealths of the criminals of the world. It has never been a concern to the “Civilized Swiss” but the minaret sure are.
    The European nations have always been plundering the world for their greed and hatred. They are doing the same still today under different name and game of economics and politics. So to see those symbols and signs of the ones you have done wrong to certainly would cause some to worry about their own doings.
    Minerats stand as a testimony of One God .. the God of Justice, Peace , Morality and against all oppressions. I am sure Swiss will continue on their path of prejudice and hate.. Whats New ??????

  58. Xopher says:

    Appalling. Any decent Swiss person should be ashamed, as any decent Californian should be of Prop h8.

    As for those bringing up the banning of churches in some Moslem countries:

    1. Non-unique evil is still evil. If YOU want to say that it’s evil for Saudi Arabia (the scum of the Arab world IMNSHO) to ban churches, you must also be on board with the fact that it’s evil for Switzerland to ban minarets.

    2. Weren’t we supposed to be the good guys? We don’t do shit like this, supposedly. You want to JUSTIFY it by the actions of Saudi Arabia? Are they your model for morality? I think we should be doing better than Saudia fucking ARABIA!

    3. All this kind of us-vs-them talk, much as I entered your crazy worldview above, fosters the idea that Christianity and Islam are somehow two nations at war. No wonder many Moslems think a fourth crusade is in progress! You’re not helping. This isn’t about Christians taking vengeance for Moslems banning churches; it’s about Switzerland showing that as far as religious tolerance goes it’s no better than Saudi Arabia. They should be ashamed even to be comparable to what is undeniably one of the most repressive nations in the world.

    • peterbruells says:


      1. A minaret is not a mosque. While the vote leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it’s still significantly less worse than outlawing mosques/churches.

      2. You bring up Saudi Arabia a second time. However, the situation isn’t much better in many other islamic countries, where only old churches and synagogues are permitted to keep existing. Temples are religions not “of the book” do not

      Also, I don’t see that the Swiss really did claim to be the good guys. I don’t remember them joining the coalition of the willing, for example. They seem to do mostly their thing.

      3. Am an atheist and as such I find *islamistic* ideology, which is in full force in quite a new nations, some of them being really, really rich due to oil (and thus financing islamistic centers in the West) or in possession of atomic weapons to be quite a bid more frightening than Christian fundamentalist ideology. The only place where that one could do real harm right now is the United States and that has a pretty good constitution guarding against this.

      And again: If you really think that Switzerland is in this regard no better than Saudi Arabia, I have a nice bible and crucifix, a quaran and a rug for you and a camera. Plus a map of Mecca and Geneva. I’ll eagerly await your pictures of yourself praying.

      Oh, and just out of curiosity, should we assume that with regards to same-sex-marriage California is no better than Saudi Arabia? I meant, these people don’t allow homosexual even the flimsiest amount of pretense that they can marry?

  59. rrh says:

    I’m curious as to the language of the law. (Well, not literally, I don’t know any German and my French is weak.) Does it specify restrictions on the dimensions of buildings, certain recognizable features, or what?

    • Anonymous says:

      The new article in the constitution is very simple and brief (afaik one of the briefest additions/changes to the Swiss constitution since quite some time):

      “Der Bau von Minaretten ist verboten.”

      “The building of minarets is prohibited.”

      • rrh says:

        That’s it? Did they not even bother defining what a minaret is for the purpose of the law? What if some Muslims want to build a tower or a steeple?

  60. Moriarty says:

    I don’t pretend to understand Switzerland, really, but I don’t think isolationist paranoia is a new cultural value there.

  61. e.d says:

    Rather than fulminate at the outrageous behaviour of a strange bunch of European cuckoo-clock mongers, why not fulminate against democracy? After all, that is what we are seeing here–democracy in action, Swiss-style.

    If a petition attracts enough signatures, the issue will be decided on a single-issue referendum (See this news story in The Guardian). Most of the Swiss (more than 50%) turned out to vote, and most of the votes (more than 50%) were in favour of the banning minarets.

    According to the right wing SPP (Swiss People’s Party) the minarets are a political symbol, the thin end of the wedge of Sharia. However, it’s interesting to note that right wing Swiss islamophobes and left wing Swiss feminists can find common ground in the threat of muslimification and the oppression of women.

  62. Anonymous says:

    looks yet another case of xenophobia and bigotry to me. I quite like Islamic architecture a lot nicer to look at than a lot of the modern box like structures that are currently so popular.

  63. The Chemist says:

    i apologise for annoying you and offending your literary sensibilities.

    Fuck literary sensibilities. I said it has to do with readability. You want to be lazy, be my guest, so long as you understand that you lack common courtesy.

    also to be reading a little too much inbetween my lines.

    There is no reading between the lines. I’m simply following your proposal through to its natural conclusions. The fact that you’re too much of a coward to explicitly admit the implications of it is the weakness of your argument, not mine. Meanwhile, preemption is the name of the game, I’m anticipating your arguments and shooting them down. Worst case scenario: I shoot down a bunch of ideas I myself came up with. Best case scenario: I save time by closing off other rhetorical avenues you may have been attempting to take. Your comments have a tendency towards vagueness, incompleteness and non-specificity, I have to take a shotgun approach.

    For example, to clarify I’ll separate your argument about schools into two categories. Either you are discussing religious education in the form of “Sunday schools” and the like or religiously oriented education. I suspect the latter is what you were referring to, but I deal with the former just in case you feel like moving goalposts later on.

    In the case of religious schools (Sunday schools etc.) How do you enforce the end of private faith-based schools? Tell me, how do you stop the attendance of children? The only way the state enforces anything is through violence or the implicit threat of violence. Violence to what end? Violence that assumes the role of the state parent. That’s enough about that.

    Your logic seems to be that it is the state that raises children and the state that determines their upbringing. The state simply does not have “dibs” on children’s heads. To assume otherwise is to assume that the state is always right, or close enough.

    With religious and religiously oriented schools for children selected by the parents- it’s simply not your right to decide for other people what their children are taught. Period. Education is important and the right of the child, and the creation of standards for education that apply to religious schools is sufficient. The fact that you think it’s necessary that the children believe the information that they are taught to regurgitate (which is how schooling works in practice) is not a good basis for legislation. Just because I think it’s important people learn abut evolution, for example, I’m not about to take kids away from their parents for telling them it’s wrong. At the end of the day, that’s where I suspect your argument is headed (since you don’t bother to defend it in any way beyond vague allusions to segregation): Not that religious schools won’t teach certain things (they will if the standards are enforced) but that they won’t convince the children of it.

    Your view of taxes is equally myopic. You view taxes as inherently normative, ergo the ludicrous idea that exemption is tantamount to a taking. In principal taxation is a purely positive dynamic, where one raises funds for the state. The idea that taxation can, is, or should be a method of behavioral check is indefensible. Advocacy groups and non-profits have been exempted from taxation with good reason: Taxation is a function of gain. These institutions are no different from social clubs in the way that they are not designed to accrue wealth for personal gain. Do people higher on up in the food chain of these clubs make a pretty penny? Sure. Look at the salaries of some of the people running secular charities, it’s not much better.

    Meanwhile advocacy groups of all stripes get to operate as non-profits, so long as they don’t endorse specific political candidates or parties. Religious institutions are no different in that regard. So what you propose is taxation of one particular kind of advocacy organization. Why? Simply because you are convinced of its demerits. How inelegant, and perhaps more tragically, it points to a fundamental failure on your part to accept the universality of the rights to assemble, advocate, and compile lists of grievances. Taxing this turns right into privilege.

    have you been calling the muslims fascists in those countries that don’t allow churches or is it a one-sided stance?

    It doesn’t matter what I call them, when I call them it, and what telecommunications provider I choose to use when I finally do call them. It’s simply not relevant to a discussion of Switzerland, much as you would apparently like it to be. As if any answer on my part would satisfy anything more than your apparent curiosity. Explain the relevance of your question and I might dignify it with a response.

    as for your comment on chess, you are again making statements about me that you seem to have pulled out of a hat with absolutely no prior knowledge of my prowess whatsoever.

    This is where I laugh. You obviously didn’t get it, so don’t worry about it.

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