Iran warns of "consequences" for Swiss over minaret ban


40 Responses to “Iran warns of "consequences" for Swiss over minaret ban”

  1. Cicada says:

    Eh, in all but a few cases that’s the case anyhow– after all, the public could generally violently overthrow the government if they were sufficiently upset at what it was doing no matter what the form of government is. Just a matter of quibbling about consent to what the government’s doing or assent to what it’s doing.

    Perhaps having the world go back to the notion that national sovereignty is a good thing– for everyone– is a good idea. No matter what’s happening in Country Y, it’s not Country X’s problem until it crosses a border. It’d mean ignoring a lot of atrocities, true, but also would avert a fair amount of neo-imperialist coercion.

  2. Kerov says:

    A little bit more personal accountability in international affairs wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    As an American citizen, people acting in my name are dropping bombs on innocent women and children every day. Would that happen if I, personally, ever felt I’d be called to account for it?

    Diffusion of responsibility: it’s how atrocities happen.

  3. Liquidhal says:

    The ban does sound bigoted from my perspective. That said, I don’t think the foreign minister of a country which imprisons and executes people for being gay should be lecturing others on tolerance and human rights.

  4. Nadreck says:

    I’m astounded by the ignorance of the phrase “for once” in this posting. Islamic states are heavily in favour of collective punishment and many of them have this written into their constitutions. For example, a third of Israel’s population is made up of refugees from Middle Eastern countries that ethnically purged themselves of all Jews after some recently arrived Jews in old British Palestine irritated them. Not Israelis, not Zionists but simply everyone from that religion regardless of whether or not they supported the creation of Israel (many Ultra-Orthodox Jews still don’t) and regardless of how many centuries they’d been there they all got the heave-ho via the 3 am knock on the door by the local secret police. It’s Jordan’s proud boast that it’s a “Jew Free Zone”. (Weirdly, Iran is pretty much the only state that refrained from this although the Jews there are arguably third-class citizens.)

    There are many, many other examples and in general I’d say that collective punishment is pretty much the world-wide norm and not just in the Islamic vs. the Jewish front. Avoiding it is a rare and precious thing.

    BTW – Is the point of this post some sort of innuendo that you’re a greater moral hazard if you’re part of a democracy than if you’re a “I was only just following orders” zombie in a dictatorship? Didn’t the Nuremburg trials kinda come to the opposite conclusion? Or is it just to scream about evil Swiss building codes in order to avoid talking about actual major religious bigotry such as the countries that vigourously enforce the death penalty for possession of Christian bibles.

    Full disclosure: I’m an atheist.

    • Boondocker says:

      I’m pretty sure Rob was just commenting on the fact that the Swiss government didn’t want to ban minarets, but the Swiss people did. So, “for once,” the action that has provoked condemnation is more closely linked to the nation’s citizens than it is to their government (typically the source of policy).

      Full disclosure: I, too, jump to conclusions sometimes. This interpretation may be wrong.

    • arkizzle / Moderator says:

      Jeez, way to totally miss the point of “for once”.

      For once, a country’s decision making can be directly attributed to it’s citizenry and not its leaders’ whims. Nothing more.

      • misterfricative says:

        I think you’re mistaken.

        Rob wrote: ‘the condemnations are, for once, aimed directly at a nation’s public’, which seems to be consistent with Nadreck’s interpretation.

        I don’t see how you can take Rob’s sentence to mean ‘for once, a country’s decision making can be directly attributed to its citizenry’. Direct decision making by the citizenry is one of Rob’s premises, not his conclusion.

        • Rob Beschizza says:

          Both! “For once” the decision making can be attributed to the citizenry, in a more direct sense than is seen in other countries’ representative democracies. And (more speculatively) “for once” the resulting responses from other governments can be taken as directly addressing a nation’s citizenry than its government.

          Some of the responses (including Iran’s) seem to directly address the swiss government at times, asking it to overrule the result in some fashion, as if aware that this is the case–or at least might be seen to be.

        • arkizzle / Moderator says:

          Right, the condemnation of the decision is aimed at the ones who made the decision, as opposed to the usual hating on a whole country for the decisions of the ruling class.

          How am I mistaken?

          • misterfricative says:

            There’s no mistake in your summary in #19 because now, crucially, you’ve omitted ‘for once’ (cf #13). (btw is there any way to show the threads in these comment posts more clearly? It’s often difficult to know who’s responding to what.) The problem is with the scope of ‘for once’.

            Rob’s original sentence was of the form: given an initial event/condition, the result for once was xyz. For me, the scope of ‘for once’ is limited to ‘the result was xyz. That was evidently Nadreck’s reading too, and I don’t see how you can legitimately parse it any other way.

            Of course, it would be perfectly reasonable to attach ‘for once’ to the first half of this clause instead, or to both halves, or to the clause as a whole; the meaning would change accordingly. I’m just pointing out that this isn’t what the original text actually does.

          • arkizzle / Moderator says:


            *for once* the condemnation of the decision is aimed at the ones who made the decision, as opposed to the usual hating on a whole country for the decisions of the ruling class.

            Now what? Nothing is different.

            I genuinely don’t know how you are getting anything other than: usually a country’s decision making is made by a small section of its members, yet the condemnation is meted out to the whole population. But now, for once, the condemnation will go squarely to those who made the decision (the population).

            And no matter what, Nadrek is bringing things to the disscussion that have nothing to do with Rob’s post. Rob isn’t saying that collective punishment (or condemnation, at least) is unusual, or that it didn’t previously exist, he is saying for once it is appropriate (the collective bit, not the punishment).

  5. ablebody says:

    hey hoss, they’s always opprobriatin’ the public.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ahmedinejad has seen your posturing, and raises:

  7. Avram / Moderator says:

    “Consequences”? I notice that, as usual with western reporting about Iran, the most threatening-sounding word or phrase has been picked out and displayed outside of its original context. The LA Times blog entry Rob is linking to doesn’t present us with any actual sentence spoken or written by Manouchehr Mottaki (Iran’s foreign minister, the alleged source for the quote) that contains the word “consequences”. Neither does the IRNA story they link to.

    • jokel says:

      Looks more like western reporting picked up the emphasis from the IRNA article, which mentions “consequences” (quotes included) in the very first sentence of the article.

      • Avram / Moderator says:

        Didn’t bother to read my follow-up comment (#8), didja, Jokel?

        • jokel says:

          As it happens, I did bother reading it and still disagreed with your assessment of the situation given the prominence and apparent quote status in the source article: that they picked on the word for its shock value and ripped it out of context.

  8. misterfricative says:

    Arkizzle, I’m sorry. I didn’t expect this to become such a protracted issue. I was just trying to correct what I took to be an inadvertent misreading of what Rob actually wrote. I don’t know what Rob may have intended to say (well, actually, I do now because in his post above he says he would apply ‘for once’ separately to both parts of the clause), I only know what he actually wrote.

    You say:

    Rob isn’t saying that collective punishment (or condemnation, at least) is unusual

    But on the contrary, that’s precisely what he says — ‘the condemnations are, for once, aimed directly at a nation’s public’ — and that’s what Nadreck, quite reasonably imo, takes issue with.

    Conversely you say that Rob is saying:

    for once [collective condemnation] is appropriate

    But where do you get ‘appropriate’ from? ‘For once’ means ‘this time only’, ie unusually. There’s nothing in the text to indicate whether Rob feels this unusual state of affairs is either appropriate or inappropriate.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but if not, does this help to clear up the misunderstanding?

    • arkizzle / Moderator says:

      “[Rob isn't saying that collective punishment (or condemnation, at least) is unusual]

      But on the contrary, that’s precisely what he says – ‘the condemnations are, for once, aimed directly at a nation’s public’ – and that’s what Nadreck, quite reasonably imo, takes issue with.

      That only works if you purposely leave out the start of that sentence, and ignore the context that the rest of the post provides. Can you at least see how Rob’s later-stated meaning is a valid reading of that sentence? It seems obvious to me, reading the post as a whole (and including the shared experience we all have of groups condemning entire populations), what Rob meant by that statement.

      Nardreck seems to have had a loaded reading of the sentence. Turns out it was wrong, as Rob has clarified, and I have attempted to.

      So, you can either accept that that reading was wrong (others have been able to parse it in the way Rob intended) OR decide that Rob has never heard of collective punishment of a populace, never heard about the persecution of the Jews or the various other groups/countries that have been collectively oppressed by others over the years, never even stumbled across the whole Second World War thing, and really meant to imply that this was the first time ever that a populace was held (appropriately or not) accountable for anything.

      Up to you.

      • misterfricative says:

        This is becoming absurd.

        Here’s the original sentence in full.

        Given Switzerland’s unusual direct-democracy, however, where people can enact laws even when the government is against them, doesn’t this mean that the condemnations are, for once, aimed directly at a nation’s public rather than the government that represents them?

        First, in #13 you said that this means: ‘for once, a country’s decision making can be directly attributed to its citizenry and not its leaders’ whims.’ — Which is simply not what Rob’s original text says. (Although his later post says that ‘for once’ could also be added to this part of the sentence — as indeed it could. But it’s not there in the original text.)

        Then, in #24, with reference to:

        *for once* the condemnation of the decision is aimed at the ones who made the decision, as opposed to the usual hating on a whole country for the decisions of the ruling class.

        – You said that ‘nothing is different’ whether ‘for once’ is present in the sentence or not.

        Then you said it means ‘for once it is appropriate (the collective bit, not the punishment).’

        And now you’re saying that OK, it might be read the way that I’m reading it, but only if I purposely leave out the start of the sentence and ignore the context.

        Well, if you leave off the first part of the sentence, then certainly some of the reasoning behind the conclusion disappears. But it has no effect whatever on the meaning of the second part of the sentence.

        As for context, I took it to be UN-era diplomacy, and in fact no, I wasn’t aware that any government these days was in the habit of holding a democratic country’s population directly accountable. And as Rob says explicitly in his clarification, he’s only speculating that, for once, that might be happening here. Indeed, drawing attention to this interesting but speculative possibility seems to be the whole point of the entire post.

        To answer your next question: No, I don’t in fact think that Rob’s later stated meaning is exactly the same as what he originally says. I think it’s been slightly modified because ‘for once’ has now been added to the first part. But OK, let’s go ahead anyway and switch to using the text in #21: the second part still says ‘And (more speculatively) “for once” the resulting responses from other governments can be taken as directly addressing a nation’s citizenry than its government.’ Yup. Exactly. This is where we came in.

        Finally, if you want to criticize the relevance Nadreck’s post, you could point out that he’s talking about the collective punishment of people of the same religion, not people of the same citizenship. But his parsing of the scope of ‘for once’ is impeccable.

  9. johnlancia says:

    Nadreck is working for the Mossad. Anyone else read about that? Mossad is forming a unit to infiltrate social networking sites all over the internet to play up Israels part.

    • mdh says:

      whether that is true or false bears no effect on his pursuasiveness. As with most ideology based arguments his is not… compelling.

  10. apolloguide says:

    I really detest religion in any form and even more than that I absolutely hate for religious fanatics to start chanting and braying 6 times a day from amplified speakers in hideous towers while I am trying to sleep after my night of driving a San Francisco cab. All of my Arab friends as well as the Jewish ones agree that these folks need to learn to keep their religious fantasies to themselves as a private matter and not try to convert people who have learned to live and let live through honest interchanges with their fellow earthlings.

  11. Avram / Moderator says:

    And yes, I’m aware that the IRNA is Iran’s state-owned news service. It tends to be supportive of Ahmadinejad. So what we should maybe be wondering is: What incentive does Ahmadinejad have to misrepresent minister Mottaki’s position? Might it have something to do with Mottaki having been the campaign manager for one of Ahmadinejad’s rivals in the recent Iranian presidential election?

  12. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Absurd, you say?

  13. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    To clarify:

    I don’t think I’ve changed what I’ve said, at all. I’ve been describing the same mindset (my reading of the OP) throughout; I have the same reading and understanding of it as I did when I read it the first time. But the way you describe it is like I’m wavering to-and-fro around the general area of Rob’s point. I see you picking apart things that I don’t see the difference in, but which you clearly see as dramatically affecting the resultant meaning..

    I’m genuinely puzzled at how differently we are reading the same piece. Perhaps our differing backgrounds set us up to interpret it differently.


    • misterfricative says:

      Yup, I don’t understand why we’re having different readings either. Picking things apart seemed like a good way to get at the source of our disagreement. But I’m as stumped as you are.

      For me, there’s a difference if ‘for once’ is present versus if it is not. And its location in the sentence makes a difference too.

  14. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Again, only for clarity:

    As for context, I took it to be UN-era diplomacy, and in fact no, I wasn’t aware that any government these days was in the habit of holding a democratic country’s population directly accountable.

    See, I read it as general condemnation.. yes by diplomat to diplomat, but also in posturing pundits, politicians and general populations (how’s that for unintentional alliteration?).

    - French government chooses not to play war with the US? Boycott French products and make openly racists remarks about the French people!
    - US government chooses to play war with Iraq? Boycott American products and make openly racists remarks about the American people!
    - Britain’s ruling class pwnd Ireland for 800 years? I shall hate my English neighbour today!
    - Israeli military invades Gaza? Let’s hate on Jews!

    In all those case, the rullng class made decisions that brought condemnation on the populace of the country from people/politicians/pundits of other countries. The populace had nothing to do with the decision, but would generally bear the brunt of the condemnation as anti-Americanism, or anti-Semitism or economic embargoes.

    Whereas.. in this case, “for once” the decision which had inspired the condemnation of the people, had been made by the people. And therefore “for once” the condemnation that followed, was appropriately aimed at them (which it always is anyway, but this time “for once” it is different), because they instigated the decision directly.

    Anyway, that’s where I was coming from. Rob may been cringing at my misreading or content in my interpretation, but that’s how I read it, and I believe that’s all I’ve been describing.

    I’m done, and I’m sure you are too.

    • misterfricative says:

      Arkizzle, (this is in response to your #36, which I didn’t see until after I’d posted #37) — Aha! OK, that would explain it then! I’m glad we got this sorted out in the end.

  15. benher says:

    I look forward to the next inevitable Swiss extension of the ban to steeples, synagogues, menorahs, crosses, and little L. Ron Hubbard statuettes.

    But really, Iran trying to call out any country on their lack of democratic principles is even more laughable than my lame jokes.

  16. Rich Keller says:

    Consequences? Everything has consequences.

    I just read the article in the INRA link. It doesn’t seem any more threatening than any other article I’ve read on this topic.

    To Quote:

    “Mottaki said that Bern’s decision to halt building new minarets was ‘against the prestige of a country which claims to be an advocate of democracy and human rights.’

    Mottaki added that the act ‘will damage Switzerland’s image as a pioneer of respecting human rights among Muslims’ public opinion.’

    ‘Values such as tolerance, dialogue and respecting others’ religious should never be put to referendum,’ Mottaki told his Swiss counterpart.

    He expressed hope that Bern would soon ‘take necessary steps and find a constitutional way to prevent imposition of the ban.’”

    Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki’s statement seems no worse than the article I read on Spiegel.DE/International last week. His comment referendum is important because public opinion can be too easily swayed by current events and “squeeky wheel” interest groups.

  17. Florian says:

    I’m Swiss and I’m ashamed for the result of *Initiative* (it is not a Referendum). However disagreeing I might be with the bigoted right-wing christian nuts who voted for the ban, I’m proud that the people of Switzerland can make decisions such as this for themselves.

    Ahmadinejadian threatening of consequences will not change the attitude of the bigoted rightwing christian nuts who voted for the ban. However, because it attacks a core values of Switzerland, such as autonomy, freedom of foreign influence and the right of the people to follow our direct democratic process, it will draw the ire of *everybody* in the country.

  18. annoyingmouse says:

    Isn’t this exactly what the people who passed the law want? That is, for extremists to fuel the arguments of the prejudiced Swiss law so they can further erode the rights of law-abiding peaceful people whose opinions and beliefs are not reflected in the views and statements of loud-mouthed attention seeking zealots. Extremists Vs extremists in a repetitive “no, you started it” argument?

  19. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    Even worse, has anyone read the comments on the linked article?

    Crazy open ignorance.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Well, here is the consenquences for those who are not unaware of reality.
    22 April 2009
    The presidents of Iran and Switzerland met on Sunday to discuss diplomatic and economic issues on the sidelines of an international summit on anti-racism in Geneva, IRNA wrote.
    “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hans-Rudolf Merz focused mainly on questions related to collaboration in the energy and economic sectors”, the Swiss government said in a statement after they met at a Geneva hotel.
    Switzerland has been representing US interests in Iran since 1980, because Washington has no direct diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.
    “Within the scope of this mandate undertaken by Switzerland as a protecting power, various unresolved cases of consular protection were discussed,” the Swiss statement read.
    The United States has already criticized an agreement for the delivery of natural gas signed between a private Swiss energy company and Tehran. The deal was signed in Tehran in 2008 in the presence of Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey.
    It covers the delivery of 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas per year through a pipeline by 2012, according to EGL, the Swiss company who signed the contract with National Iranian Gas Export Company.
    Swiss Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey said it was Switzerland’s strategy to diversify its source of energy supplies. “We decrease our dependence, and the dependence of Europe, on Russian gas,” she said.
    Calmy-Rey also said that the natural gas accord breached neither UN nor US sanctions, which forbid any investment in Iran’s oil and gas sector worth more than $20 million.

  21. pidg says:

    Super, I look forward to the full support of the Iranian government and people when I go over there to build some churches.

    And if I don’t get that support…. there will be CONSEQUENCES!

  22. Anonymous says:

    this is a perfect chance for Iran (and all others who are offended) to learn a lesson about protest.

    Those offended should pull all their money out of Swiss banks (I hear Dubai would be interested in some cash inflow), never buy Swiss products (who really needs a knife with a spoon in it anyway), and drop all contact with the country (which i am sure will break their little swiss hearts).

    Even further protest could be efficiently and effectively enforced if all offended would withdraw from Swiss society – no more paying rents or mortgages to the swiss, no more paying swiss taxes, no more working for swiss bosses, or even breathing swiss air.

    Again, i hear there are a lot of empty living spaces in Dubai where a good muslim can experience the unequalled joy of living under sharia law and building minarets on every corner…screw the swiss and their liberal democratic ways.


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