Towering Swiss Islamophobia

The ban on minarets will only heighten rhetoric and hatred.

Thanks to the power of a recent referendum, the Swiss people have forced their government to illegalize the construction of any new minarets. These tall, onion-topped spires, commonly associated with mosques, traditionally serve as a platform from which Muslims can be called to their daily prayers. The Swiss PeopleâÄôs Party, one of the largest in their parliament, forwarded the referendum. About 57 percent of Swiss votes and 22 of 26 cantons, or provinces, supported the ban. While extreme right-wing elements throughout Europe are applauding the decision, both Vatican and Muslim officials have already condemned it. The measure passed against the Swiss governmentâÄôs recommendations. This is yet another disturbing example of reactionary, fear-based responses to Islamist extremism. If other nations follow suit and allow this type of intolerance to be enforced as law, itâÄôs only likely to bolster extremist activities at home and abroad. Policies like this one also further confuse the Muslim faith with extremist factions, persecuting and alienating those who might otherwise be allies in the struggle against terrorism. If the United Nations wants to take seriously its mission of developing friendly relations among nations based on respect and equal rights, it should pressure Switzerland to reverse this decision. Furthermore, civilized nations everywhere should be doing much more to find and address the root problems of Islamic terrorism rather than continue to respond in kind. Extremist reactions to extremist movements only serve to perpetuate hostilities and further threaten global stability.