A bit late to the party with this one, and not that much to add except that when it comes to the Swiss passing a law to ban minarets we should remove the beam in our own eye rather than worrying about the mote in another countries.
For a bit of background as this is rather late after the immediate fuss has died down, the Swiss have decided that four minarets is quite enough and they’d not like any more. As far as I can tell they don’t care who wants to build them or why. Generally speaking I’m with Archbishop Cranmer on this one in thinking it a lot of fuss about not much. The Swiss from what I can gather are quite keen on restricting all sorts of things, but seem to be generally o.k. with this so that they choose to ban a specific architectural feature currently popular with a particular sect isn’t really a big deal. But segments of our press and commentariate seem to thing it’s a horrible beastly thing ushering in a new age of intolerance. Which just makes me wonder why these same people are quite happy that closer to home there is specific legislation preventing a specific religious group from naming their places of worship as they see fit, from it’s followers holding the same jobs as those of other religions are allowed and even from using traditional methods for summoning it’s devotees to prayer.
This disparity was raised in Parliament as recently as 2007, but at the time many people who are now upset with the Swiss were inclined to dismiss it as unimportant, due to the small scale of people it. The Swiss action which affected about 5% of the population caused Amnesty international to warn that violated freedom of religion but are oddly quiet on laws in this country which actually mention a religion explicitly rather than being confined to an architectural feature. Why are they not then up in arms about existing laws which are explicitly targeting a single relgion but are instead happy for this government to be merely ‘“ready to consider” changing the law‘?
If I were of a cynical mind I would have to wonder if the specific religions invovled in both incidents is what makes the difference? Though of course the more likely explanation is that a new law in another country is far more exciting than repealing old unjust laws close to home. that however doesn’t make it any less hypocritical.
Update A Guest post on More to life than shoes gives a Swiss take on thier view on the recent vote.