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  • thabet 9:33 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , switzerland   

    Muammar Gaddafi doesn’t do much to remove his ‘nutter’ tag:

    Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, yesterday called for a jihad, or holy war, against Switzerland, in an escalation of his vendetta against the country where police once arrested his son.

    At a meeting in the city of Benghazi to mark the prophet Muhammad’s birthday, Gaddafi described the country as an infidel state that was “destroying” mosques. Last year he urged the UN to abolish Switzerland and divide it between Germany, France and Italy.

    “Any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate – is against Muhammad, God and the Qur’an,” Gaddafi said.

     
    • thabet 9:34 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Switzerland, like Denmark, is a nice ‘white’ easy target for some Muslim leaders.

      • Pretty Pink Unicorns 9:55 pm on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        LOL Gaddafi is about as “Muslim” as a doorknob. We used to have an contest of sorts in my Arabic class to try to find the most ridiculous things he’s done. They are pretty amazingly crazy… like “he should be on medications for that” crazy.

  • thabet 2:06 am on February 4, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , switzerland   

    A member of the Swiss political party that pushed for the minaret ban is a convert to Islam:

    Daniel Streich was a member of the Swiss People’s party (SVP), the political party that pushed the minaret ban initiative. Streich is a military instructor in the Swiss Army and a local politician in the commune of Bulle. Formerly a devout Christian, he converted to Islam–and kept it a secret for two years.

    Streich has left the SVP, made his conversion to Islam public, and has denounced the SVP’s anti-Muslim campaign as a witch hunt.

     
    • abunoor 9:55 am on February 4, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This story has been making the rounds in Muslim circles lately and unfortunately some sources seem to be misrepresenting it. As you can see from Thabet’s link, this man left the party and denounced the anti-minaret campaign before the vote. He was a local politician, who as noted has been Muslim privately for two years before his public announcement and he wasn’t leading any anti-Muslim campaign during that time.

      Here is a good example of how the story is being (it seems to me deliberately but Allaahu Alam I don’t actually know anything other than what is in the blog post that Thabet linked to) mischaracterized and exaggerated for some kind of propaganda value — or just to make it a better story.

  • johnpi 12:45 am on February 4, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , switzerland,   

    Swiss taking Uighur brothers held by US since 2002.

    A decision by Switzerland to give a home to two Chinese Muslim brothers detained at Guantanamo Bay for nearly eight years could allow the Obama administration to avoid a difficult Supreme Court argument over whether a judge can order detainees released into the United States.
    The Swiss said Wednesday that they will resettle the brothers, Arkin Mahmud and Bahtiyar Mahnut, probably within a month. They are among seven Chinese Muslims, or Uighurs (pronounced WEE’-gurs), who remain at Guantanamo and have been regarded as symbols of the unfairness of the U.S. detention policy following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

     
  • johnpi 8:35 am on January 27, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , nestlé, switzerland   

    The Swiss do love Muslim money though…

    As incomes rise in the Islamic world and Muslims migrate increasingly to Europe and the United States, Wangen’s halal production is part of a thrust by Nestlé to carve a niche in the global market for halal products, including coffee, baked goods, breakfast cereals and baby food. Halal products now account for $5 billion of Nestlé’s global sales.

    But while Switzerland benefits from factories like this one selling its products to Muslim customers in many countries, it appears the Swiss are adamantly opposed to the construction of more minarets like the one down the street.

    On the other hand, two-thirds of the plant employees are non-Swiss, many from Muslim countries and who are probably Muslim.

     
  • johnpi 9:40 am on December 15, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , switzerland,   

    A bad news morning in the media. Rather than crud up the front page with it, I’ll do a round-up post.

    A New York Times article focuses on the hypocrisy of outrage in the Muslim world about the Swiss mineret ban when most of those same countries are repressing their own religious minorities.

    “The decision of the Swiss people stood to be interpreted as xenophobic, prejudiced, discriminative and against the universal human rights values,” said the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which represents 57 Muslim-majority nations.

    Members include Saudi Arabia, where non-Muslims are arrested for worshiping privately; Maldives, the Indian Ocean atoll where citizenship is reserved for Muslims; Libya, which limits churches to one per denomination in cities; and Iran, where conversion from Islam is punished by death, according to a 2009 U.S. State Department report on religious freedom.

    A conference on sexual harassment in the Arab world concluded in Cairo with a message that “the sexual harassment of women in the streets, schools and work places of the Arab world is driving them to cover up and confine themselves to their homes.”

    A federal judge sentenced a Pakistani-American and a Bangladeshi-American to long prison terms in Georgia on terrorism-related charges. The defendants were defiant in court and said the laws of the US don’t apply to them. They refused to stand at sentencing. “Mankind rises for God. We cannot stand before men.”

    Pakistani cricketers were mocked with racist comments and jeers at a New Zealand match. Spectators in a corporate box shouted “Pakistani terrorists!” at the team and made other comments.

    Another bomb blast in Pakistan has killed another slew of people.

    India claims the two Kashmiri women whose deaths prompted riots drowned in an ankle-deep stream. “The agency filed charges against 13 people, including 6 doctors, 5 local lawyers, an activist and the brother of one of the dead women. The charges included fabricating evidence and intimidating witnesses after the recovery of the two bodies.”

     
  • buzz 5:56 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , switzerland,   

    Alternate take on the Swiss Ban on Minarets from Islamabad Blogger

    …The request of the Turkish minister to pull out deposits from Swiss banks is not going to work. We can defeat extremists by convincing the people of Switzerland that Islam is not related to violence. Those who justify violence in the name of Islam are not our representatives. If we are able to defeat these elements, winning back the support of the masses in Western societies would not be very difficult. Unfortunately, those who believe in peace, non-violence and modernity in Muslim societies are unorganised and their voices are weak. Our support should be with the Swiss government, which still stands for human rights and freedom of religion, and those who rejected the extremists’ propaganda and voted against the ban.

    Complete article.

     
    • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee 6:52 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      • Buzz 7:14 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Another case of both sides of the debate talking past each other without the least interest in the facts.

        The rush to make this a Muslim oppression issue or a Muslim Ivasion issue obscures all the important points of this ban. The piece I linked above gets it.

        • Buzz 7:28 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Actually, Tariq Ramadan, as quoted from the MM post also gets it.
          Instead of victimization, maybe Swiss Muslims and Muslims in general should ask what grievances their fellow citizens have. What is the root of distrust and can it be resolved.

          If Swiss Muslims brought a ton of benefit to Switzerland’s social economic structure, you can bet more than 44% would have supported Minarets. Maybe Swiss Muslim Immigrants are bringing all that much to the table. How much can you impose on a society. How far can tolerance be stretched with no benefits.

          Obviously Muslims immigrants in America are on a different footing. I would have to check. I suspect Muslims here do not drain the economy.

          In bad economic times, these conflicts are unavoidable.

        • Hicham Maged 4:16 am on December 10, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I enjoyed reading this article and I agree with you. Actually from my point of view, neither banning nor boycotting can solve the problems which this vote show.

  • abunoor 12:32 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , switzerland   

    Anne Applebaum has a silly piece in Slate about the Swiss Minarets controversy

    She argues that the voters who supported the ban weren’t anti-Muslim they were against Islamic extremism. Of course other comments in her article suggest that “extremism” to her is wearing hijab.

    There are at least two major problems with this argument. At the heart of the problem lies the obvious fact that minarets bear no relationship to extremism. So, what in the world does it mean to say that the vote was due to fear of ‘extremism.’ To say that people are opposed to every Muslim or innocuous aspects of Muslim or Islamic cultures because they are afraid of extremism not because they inherently hate every Muslim is a distinction without a difference as far as I’m concerned.

    Second, banning minarets does nothing to prevent extremism and in fact high profile emotional campaigns by right wingers for symbolic expressions of anti-Muslim feeling is surely more likely to contribute to extremism than to promote integration.

     
    • Buzz 12:37 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The basic ethical premise of this argument, putting aside Islamic or general religious bigotry, is that religions should learn to coalesce with secularism in Western countries and that requires that the overt religious symbols get toned down.
      Frankly, there is something to this.

      • Buzz 12:40 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        See EU Crucifix Ban for another example.

        • abunoor 12:44 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Without expressing an opinion on the crucifix ban, allowing religious architecture of a certain type is a completely different issue from government placed symbols of religion in government buildings.

          I admit that my mind kinda defaults to the American first amendment framework for examining these issues, but even if some one wishes to posit some alternative framework the distinction I mention above remains.

          • Buzz 1:53 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            I think, for non-Muslims, in Europe and perhaps in the US, placing a crucifix on the walls of public buildings or Minarets in the center of town symbolizes the same religious public placard.

            Secular people do not want religious symbols placed on their common area. Minarets become a sort of signature for a city’s landscape. It stamps the area where they stand as Muslim. This could be unfair. In Muslim majority areas or disignated and discrete areas where a vote can be taken, such a vote should take place. This is what we saw in Switzerland.

            The problem is the Muslim orthodoxy wants it both ways. They want to ban blasphemous free speech and prevent insensitivities towards Muslims and then they want to push free speech and assert total religious freedom on the other hand. It is a duplicitous and self-centered policy.

            Secular societies require compromise. Islamic orthodoxy has to come to terms with this just like the secularists.

      • abunoor 12:41 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        There is nothing to it, Buzz.

        There is absolutely no inherent tension between large religious buildings and secularism. In fact, it is precisely opposite as I allude to in my post, the best way to “integrate” Muslims into a non-Muslim polity is to allow them to have big fancy buildings where most of them will rarely go but seeing the architecture in the sky will make them feel welcome (and even more to the point overt government prohibitions of same will clearly make even those who are not ‘religious’ feel unwelcome.)

        • Buzz 12:50 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Well…every city has codes. Some only allow 2 story buildings…some have a max volume…some have design issues. It is the way the Western mind works….organization…uniformity…city planning.

          Whether you want to face it or not, the current theme in the news is Islam coming to terms with Secularism. The stories go on and on in the news.

          And in Europe, it has gone further than that into religion and secularism.

          The west has no business bending over backwards for Islamic orthodoxy. Islamic orthodoxy can live in the West according to Western principles or it can leave and go home.

          You have the freedom to think and believe whatever you want in the sanctity of your own person. This freedom, the West guarantees. When you impose on others, there in lies a problem for the greater good of pluralistic socities.

          • abunoor 12:56 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            Buzz,

            This issue had nothing to do with city planning or zoning. If it was about that, it could have been handled as a zoning law. Heck, if the rightwingers behind this wanted to ban minarets but make it seem like they were not bigots they could have done it under the guise of a neutral zoning ordinance. They did not because the whole point of the vote was to symbolically cast a vote against Islam and Muslims.

            There is nothing in what we are discussing about anything being imposed on others nor is there any discussion of Islamic orthodoxy, nor do the minarets have anything to do with ‘secularism’ except insofar as enshrining a ban on an architectural component associated explicitly with one specific religious tradition is by any defintion a violation of any principle of secularism.

            • Buzz 1:09 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              The point is that conspicuous displays of religious belief are a burden on the whole society and there is a cost to allowing every kook or group of kooks to do whatever the want in the name of religious freedom.

              There is a burden. How much does the majority have to bear to support its minorities. ESPECIALLY in religion which SHOULD be an internal enrichment of the soul. Not a conspicous display.

            • Buzz 1:10 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              It goes on into holidays, etc.

            • abunoor 1:13 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              There are several assumptions to your comments which I just simply do not share.

              The central ones seem to be:

              1)That seeing that other people have different religious beliefs or practices is necessarily a “burden” on the public.

              2)That religion should somehow be essentially internal and not visible.

              Do you believe that your assumptions on these issues are essentially :

              1. Personal to yourself
              2. somehow based on Islamic teachings
              3. Based on American, European, or “Enlightenment” understandings?

            • Buzz 1:15 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Religious people never do think their religion is a burden to society. Other religions, of course, maybe are a burden.
              Not ones own.

              I think the Crucifix Ban the EU is going through is an ample example.

            • Buzz 1:16 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Certainly, you would agree that SOME Americans see the presence of overt Islam in America as a burden on them. No?

            • Muffy 2:34 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              First of all, the article Buzz linked to was incorrect. The European Court of Human rights, which is NOT part of the EU, banned crucifixes from Italian public schools.

              In any case, I agree with abunoor on this one. Banning religious symbols from public schools, i.e. government owned and taxpayer funded institutions, is not comparable to banning minarets from an entire country. Buzz, even if you support both decisions in the name of secularism, can’t you see that there is in fact a major distinction? I’m a secular person myself, with no family ties to Muslims at all, and I fail to see why you insist on comparing the two cases.

            • Buzz 2:40 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Lots of people are gonna disagree on this on M.

              If the Black Muslims put Minarets up in Oakland, it would piss me off. And I am Muslim. I don’t want anyone stamping my walls or my skyline with their religious trademark.

              Hope you can see my POV even if you do not agree.

            • Buzz 3:00 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              The European Council is indeed the applicable governing body in question. There is alot of confusion since they cooperate closely and share the same flag, etc.

              I don’t think it changes much.

            • abunoor 3:20 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Buzz,

              I’m not sure how precisely you are using the term “burden” here.

              Some people are disturbed by seeing overt manifestations of other religions.

              In most cases this is a reflection of their bigotry.

              I am asking for a reasonable explanation of why overt displays of religiosity is not only a burden but one which negates the assumed right of people to practice their religion in the way they wish. People’s subjective dislike of seeing that not everyone is the same as them is not such a reasonable explanation.

            • Muffy 4:47 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              If Muslims put up minarets in Oakland (which is also where I’m from, more or less), I wouldn’t care. In fact, I think a minaret would be a huge architectural improvement to a lot of the hideous industrial crap in many parts of the city. I certainly would not take offense to it or consider it a “burden” as a secular person. Oakland already has an extraordinarily conspicuous Mormon temple, but I find it quite beautiful, especially at night.

              Buzz, I do understand your point that you don’t want your view/surroundings disrupted by a building you deem distasteful. But people are already supposed to be respectful to concerns from the local community before building anything, religious or not. If someone tries building a minaret in your neighborhood, you are within your right to protest — just like people near where I live successfully protested something we thought was offensive to our view. Of course, your one opinion means nothing unless you can find enough people to agree with you. Furthermore, the exist such things known a “building codes” that do in fact serve to preserve the local flavor of some communities. So how does it make any sense to want to ban one specific architectural design of one religion from an entire country, especially when we know the people pushing the ban have a broader, more sinister agenda (as was the case of the SVP party in Switzerland)?

            • Buzz 5:49 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Not distasteful. I don’t think a religious minority should be in the position of deciding how a city skyline should look for the whole city or that area.

              No one said, you can’t build mosques. It is a matter of affecting others with your own preferences.

            • Buzz 6:12 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Abu Noor

              Please check back up for my comment re: question of burden.

            • Muffy 6:32 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              I don’t think a religious minority should be in the position of deciding how a city skyline should look for the whole city or that area.

              In that case, is it ok for a non-religious minority to dictate an entire skyline (which, under your definition, seems to be nothing more than one conspicuous building)?

            • Buzz 6:38 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Majority rules. City councils, etc.
              Democracy. ‘member?

            • Buzz 6:41 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink

              Let me more clear. If Oakland is a Black Muslim majority city (and they were wont to represent their community faith by erecting minarets, I would be all for it. When you drive by Oakland, you would see the minarets and you would think, there are those Black Muslims and their fish sandwiches and it would be cool. It would represent the town the way it is.
              Charming actually, like old cities in Europe that still have moorish remains.

              But, divesity and pluralism requires we all find a suitable common solution. That is just the way it is and the way it is heading.

            • Muffy 4:27 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink

              In that case, it sounds like you aren’t so much arguing for secularism as much as you are arguing against multiculturalism.

            • Buzz 5:19 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink

              I am pro Muslim, pro secular and pro multi culturalism. I don’t like it when any one concern takes advantage or is indifferent to the needs of the other parties.

              A vote may and should have happened for the Mormon temple since it is so conspicuous. I live in its shadow as well. Truth be told, I like it visually but I wonder if some Mormons just didn’t grease the right city councilperson’s approvals.

              Currently, it’s pleasing spires are a symbol of intolerance for Gay Marriage. Not a great symbol for our area.

            • muffy 8:17 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink

              So you’re pro-multiculturalism, but you can’t bear to see a large building of a minority religion in your view, even in one of the most diverse cities in the nation. I’m not sure I fully understand, but if that’s your opinion, so be it.

            • Buzz 8:48 pm on December 9, 2009 Permalink

              Yeah, well I am not sure I understand your obstinance either, but whatever.

              Everybody can’t have exactly the way they want it. People have to compromise and large, conspicuous buildings are particularly troublesome.

              That is great that you have envisioned some shangri-la where every minority group can do whatever the hell they want.

              Back here on earth, the whole community has to be in on major decisions. C’est la vie. Supporting multiculturalism does not hinge on supporting huge temples in the middle of town nor in all the other superficialities which really speak more to politics than faith or culture.

              Nuff said for my part. I am really bored with this..

    • abunoor 12:50 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      By the way, I know I posted this because I thought Applebaum’s argument was particularly silly but the more I think about it the more bored I get of discussing the Minarets issue.

      I think there are important issues worth discussing but the specific minarets thing is a specious red herring…of which there have been countless before and I expect will be countless more.

      This is a more general frustration I have around these issues. How to find the happy medium in between philosophical discussions of national identity, integration, secularism which can often seem too abstract and actual discussions of specific issues or policies which seem to get lost in misunderstandings, code words, and in the best of situations often be more distracting than illuminating.

      For example, I think most of the discussion around Satanic Verses, Cartoon incident, Airport cab drivers and alcohol, etc. end up wasting time in distraction and do not lead to the real issues.

    • Conrad Barwa 12:57 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I can’t take Applebaum seriously, since she published that book on the Stalinist Gulag, telling us all what we already know but pretending it was something new. The logic in her article is non-existent; the Swiss don’t have any Islamic extremism, so they ban minarets to prevent any Islamic extremism – WTF? This is like the old Freudian joke about the guy carrying a shotgun throughout the Scottish highlands and when asked why replying “its to prevent the countryside being overrun by elephants” and on being told there are no elephants in Scotland replying “exactly so it is working”!

      More seriously, there is a distinction between having a secular state and having a secular society; many European countries have secular states, at least nominally as does the US; the difference is that many European societies are also secular (the UK is a bit different here having a secular society but not a secular state). I think the advantages and benefits for having a secular state (one that is democratic anyway) are clear and desirable and one can engage in a political programme to enact one – but you can’t legislate for a secular society, nor can you inflict secularism upon a religious minority. I think this is not only immoral but politically counter-productive. What Applebaum is really arguing is the Muslims should privatise their religious identity and refrain from displays of it in the public sphere; this is an abuse of liberal notions democracy and genuine secularism imo; which were actually developed to protect the rights, at least in part, of religious minorities. Majoritarianism, masquerading around as anti-Extremism, is just another form of extremism imo; an acceptance of difference and of ‘the Other’ is essential for any hetereogenous society that wants to be democratic and respect the rights and identities of its constituent members.

      • abunoor 1:09 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Conrad,

        I basically agree with your statement of the confusion of secular state vs. secular society but there is another complicating factor. Many European states, including Switzerland, are not actually Secular States in the way Americans would use the term. Almost all cantons in Switzerland have established religions, and adherents of religions are taxed through the government for support of those religious institutions. In fact, according to WikiPedia a referendum calling for actual church-state separation in Switzerland was soundly defeated in 1980 with only 21 percent in favor.

        As to Applebaum, I don’t respect much of what she writes for Slate, but I always was somewhat reluctant to criticize her because of a vague perception that her book on the Gulag (which I haven’t read) was somehow worthy of respect.

        • Conrad Barwa 1:22 pm on December 8, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Abunoor,

          Ok, thanks for that info on Switzerland, didn’t actually know that, which is a bit embarassing since I lived in Geneva for a few years! I should clarify though, that by a secular state I don’t necessarily mean one that avoids dealing with religion or doesn’t involve itself with religious matters but one that doesn’t promote one specific religion or form of religion over others and one which sees some separation of religious from political issues – of course the matter is a lot more complex but the German and Indian states both are involved with religions, with Germany collecting the same taxes that you mention for some of the Swiss cantons, for its Christian members and the Indian states has a whole machinery in place to regulate and supervise several aspects of religious matters for most of its religions.

          The Applebaum book wasn’t bad per se, I just don’t think it was anything new or original, it serves as a good introduction if you haven’t read anything specialised on the subject but too much of it was ideologically motivated to try to delegitimise the very real acheivements of Social Democracy in Europe imo. There are better critical works on the Stalinist Gulag written by those hostile towards Communism and leftist ideology in general, Martin Amis’s ‘Koba the Dread’ is particularly biting. Archie Brown’s new book on the rise and fall of Communism is also very good on this as well as the older standard works written by Sovietologists like Alec Nove.

  • aziz 11:59 am on December 6, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , switzerland   

    the real reason the Swiss banned minarets? fear – not of Islamism, but of religion itself. Asma Uddin points out how the ban has its roots in laïcité, whereas Ian Buruma notes that symbols of faith like minarets remind the secularists of the hole left behind by faith’s absence. These two pieces are enormously insightful and complement each other very well in helping to understand just how secularism is making Switzerland – and Europe as a whole – hostile to any expression of faith at all. As I’ve pointed out, the faithful of all religions – jews, muslims, and even Christians – must make common cause in the face of this threat.

     
    • razib, murtad fitri 1:50 pm on December 6, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      this is seems a weird thing to place at the feet of laicite when

      1) most swiss cantons have official religions

      2) the more religious the canton, the greater the vote in favor of the minaret ban. shouldn’t these be the most self-assured by buruma’s argument?

      3) the vote to ban minarets was weakest in the french-speaking regions. i believe these are the regions most in close connected culturally with france (e.g., french-swiss tariq ramadan is a figure in the media of france)

      the public polls in the USA consistently show it is we secularists who are least hostile to muslims. that very religious christians are the most hostile to muslims. it is correct that terror and religious repression has gone with communist regimes, and still does. but in general it seems in europe muslims tend to immigrate to the most secular, not most religious, states.

      • razib, murtad fitri 3:41 pm on December 6, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        i read the pew survey you linked to (the PDF). there’s a robust connection between anti-jewish and anti-muslim attitudes. but it doesn’t seem to be linked to secularism. the most pro-jew and pro-muslim european nations are france and england. the most anti is spain.

        • johnpi 3:47 pm on December 6, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Agreed.

          I only read Uddin, and I felt it was kind of a radical, unconventional take on the relationship between secularism and religion.

          Here’s what – to my mind – is the more conventional expression of that relationship.

          Every newspaper has its angle, and we do not hide the fact that we have ours. Our commitment is to see Sri Lanka as a transparent, secular, liberal democracy. Think about those words, for they each has profound meaning. Transparent because government must be openly accountable to the people and never abuse their trust. Secular because in a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society such as ours, secularism offers the only common ground by which we might all be united. Liberal because we recognise that all human beings are created different, and we need to accept others for what they are and not what we would like them to be.

          • razib, murtad fitri 3:55 pm on December 6, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            udin’s is a common take. it just doesn’t seem to be founded on much data that i can tell. also, it seems to neglect the fact that excluding france almost every european nation has more church-state mixing than the united states does. the american attitude toward religion is somewhat different than the european attitude, and i think that causes confusions. an atheist wrote a book a few years ago about how denmark was the most atheist country in the world, and the danes got all mad. they were mad because just because they never went to church and didn’t really believe in god didn’t mean they weren’t lutheran!

            • johnpi 4:53 pm on December 6, 2009 Permalink

              Umar Lee has a greatest hits retrospective of pre-9/11 Hamza Yusuf videos up on his blog right now, with the one titled “Secularism: The Greatest Danger” highlighted.

              I’m not going to try to restate Yusuf’s argument, since I was distracted while listening, but it seems to resemble laïcité as described by Uddin, where secularism is is said to have been conceived in opposition to religion.

              I need to clarify my earlier characterization of Uddin’s piece too. She posits that laïcité is “a deeply flawed model of secular reaction to religion.” The article ‘a’ implies more than one model of secularism.

      • Zack 6:41 am on December 7, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I agree with Razib.

        Also, see Chapati Mystery.

  • aziz 1:18 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , steeples, switzerland   

    Chapati Mystery notes that church steeples were likely invented as a response to mosque minarets.

    Maybe a solution for Swiss muslims is to add steeples to all their mosques instead? then everyone is happy.

     
    • thabet 1:24 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Sepoy rather than SM.

    • indifferent 7:32 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Steeples were (are) an architectural element with religious symbolism manifested
      in physical form. The steeple was often the highest point of the built environment, serving both as a physical landmark by which one would navigate their path to worship. It also represented an ecclesiastical platform to God, as well as a great place to ring the bells, if the church could afford them. Same is likely true of mosques.

      • abunoor 8:33 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Of course except mosques would not ring bells. I don’t know when the practice of Christians ringing bells started, but it was known to the Prophet (saw) and his companions and using the human voice to call to prayer was chosen as an alternative to that. The hadith in Sahih Bukhari indicates:

        Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

        When the Muslims arrived at Medina, they used to assemble for the prayer, and used to guess the time for it. During those days, the practice of Adhan for the prayers had not been introduced yet. Once they discussed this problem regarding the call for prayer. Some people suggested the use of a bell like the Christians, others proposed a trumpet like the horn used by the Jews, but ‘Umar was the first to suggest that a man should call (the people) for the prayer; so Allah’s Apostle ordered Bilal to get up and pronounce the Adhan for prayers.

  • abunoor 1:00 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink
    Tags: , , switzerland,   

    Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, weighs in on the minarets ban.

    After discussing the political background, he makes the following interesting contentions:

    Who is to be blamed? I have been repeating for years to Muslim people that they have to be positively visible, active and proactive within their respective western societies. In Switzerland, over the past few months, Muslims have striven to remain hidden in order to avoid a clash. It would have been more useful to create new alliances with all these Swiss organisations and political parties that were clearly against the initiative. Swiss Muslims have their share of responsibility but one must add that the political parties, in Europe as in Switzerland have become cowed, and shy from any courageous policies towards religious and cultural pluralism. It is as if the populists set the tone and the rest follow.

     
    • aziz 1:15 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      good response to Tariq Ramadan by the Islam in Europe blog –

      [Ramadan is] right, of course, the minarets are just a pretext, but I’m surprised that he’s not aware that kosher slaughter has been banned in Switzerland for more than a century, and they’re now considering banning importing kosher slaughtered meat into the country as well.

      The original reason for the ban was simple:

      At the time, Jews had recently been granted full civil rights and some Swiss citizens feared an invasion of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe, who they considered to be unassimilable, foreign and unreliable. By banning the performance of a core Jewish ritual, the Swiss people found a disguised way to limit the immigration of Jews into Switzerland

      Tariq Ramadan is fooling himself when he thinks that what Judaism couldn’t do in hundreds of years of being in Europe, Islam could do within the short span of a couple of generations. The more Muslims assert that “Islam is Swiss”, the more the Swiss are going to actively reject the notion.

      • abunoor 1:44 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        It’s odd that Ramadan wouldn’t know that about kosher slaughter.

        I think the larger discussion is very interesting. I try not to pontificate about Muslims in Europe since I don’t have any personal feel for their situation. I would resist generalizations of either kind — since it would seem that while there is a significant lack of acceptance of Islam as being swiss, there is also significant and widespread opposition to this vote on various levels of European society.

        • thabet 4:20 pm on November 30, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          The churches and various Jewish groups opposed the ban.

          • aziz 7:21 am on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            true, and that supports TR’s main point is that the muslim community there has tried to hide and avoid attention in dealing with this rather than aggressively engaging, and asserting, their cause with their natural allies.

            a single TV commerecial with a rabbi and a imam would have done more to forestall the bill than all the posters have done to promote it.

            • Conrad Barwa 2:01 am on December 2, 2009 Permalink

              a single TV commerecial with a rabbi and a imam would have done more to forestall the bill than all the posters have done to promote it.

              If the blog response to TR is anything to go by, it could have terrified voters into supporting the bill as well.

            • thabet 2:48 am on December 2, 2009 Permalink

              CIF comments are usually nasty.

    • Hicham Maged 6:27 pm on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I found Tariq Ramadan’s article insightful since it deals with the problem of Muslim integration in their corresponding ‘European societies’ which became a segneficant issue as citizens, and here I agree that it is not about the minarets themselves but the message behind this.

      On the other hand, needless to mention that Tariq himself is not only a swiss citizen but was born and raised there, so he is aware what is happing.

      Anyway, I am aganist generalizing, stereotyping and extremism in anything.

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