The Swiss democracy has spoken, to the delight of the Christian right wing in Europe and elsewhere, with Le Pen and others congratulating millionaire Chris Blocher with this victory.
Needless to say, the election was a populistic hogwash, totally unnecessary in a country where the political power and decision making rests with the "Gemeinderat" or city council.
What is a minaret any way ?
Minarets are (Arabic for lighthouse) distinctive but not necessary architectural features of Islamic mosques, providing visual focal point from where believers are called to adman (prayer) five times each day. Functionally similar to Christian and Buddhist belfries or bell towers. Some twenty five years ago a Mormon church in the small Gemeinde of Meiringen wanted to build a large bell-tower.
The Gemeinde declined building permit and the tower was never build. Its that simple. Until now this is how it worked with minarets too. If the Gemeinde felt that its muslim community deserved a minaret and the location of the building was acceptable building- permission was granted, otherwise not. The main concern is always the city's historical-architectural harmony.
It is the same with immigration and working visas.
The working permits are issued by the Gemeinde and just rubber-stamped by the Federal government. In those Gemeinde where there is a large Japanese tourism e.g. Grindelwald and Zermatt and the hotels, restaurants and shops need japanese speaking staff, working visas for japanese are readily available.
Ofcourse the skyline and general appearance of these tourist spots are very important for the economic well being of the Gemeinde, and since it is evident the the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian etc. etc. tourists are not visiting Grindelwald or Zermatt to see minarets beside the gletschers permissions for minaret- and other extraordinary buildings are not readily granted. But this has nothing to do with religious freedom, one can establish as many mosques or other houses of worship as one wishes so those Swiss who voted against the minaret ban were upset by the SVP attempt of infringement of the Swiss constitution.
If one is living in Japan one can not help comparing this minaret issue to the evident Christian double moral. Couldn't they have put Union Church somewhere else. Why does it have to be on Omotesando, being the main approach to Meiji Jingu, and if I remember correctly there are several Christian churches right on the approach to the main entrance of Ise Jingu as well. The misuse of religious freedom is obviously evident from the Christian loudspeakers every Oshogatsu infront of numerous Shinto shrines and amidst prominent Japanese Matsuri processions.
How can they be so provocatively obtuse ? Maybe they will not see the light until somebody is planning to build a minaret on Pennsylvania Avenue , a Shinto Torii on Champs Elysees and a five story Pagoda next to Westminster Abbey.
By Gabor Fabricius
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