Hannan on minarets

November 30, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Posted in International | 4 Comments

Is it still committing heresy to link favourably to Daniel Hannan? Ah well, I was never going to be invited to the Cool Kids’ table anyway:

The decision by Swiss voters to outlaw the construction of minarets strikes me as regrettable on three grounds.

First, it is at odds with that other guiding Swiss principle, localism: issues of this kind ought surely to be settled town by town, or at least canton by canton, not by a national ban.

Second, it is disproportionate. There may be arguments against the erection of a particular minaret by a particular mosque – but to drag a constitutional amendment into the field of planning law is using a pneumatic drill to crack a nut.

Third, it suggests that Western democracies have a problem, not with jihadi fruitcakes, but with Muslims per se – which is, of course, precisely the argument of the jihadi fruitcakes.

Hannan’s last point is surely the most important. Whilst there may have been a few Swiss voters who voted for the ban solely out of aesthetic antipathy, I suspect they were somewhat outnumbered by people who voted because they are suspicious, wary or even scared of their Muslim countrymen.

If a number of amateur bloggers can speculate that fear of Muslims led to this vote, you can be pretty sure that Swiss Muslims have gotten the message, too. And therein lies the problem; othering often leads to more marginalisation, segregation, exclusion, distrust and bitterness than existed before. Those are pretty ripe conditions for political and religious extremism to fester, and so the proponents of the ban are actually succeeding in compounding a problem they supposedly wish to reduce. So they’re either dishonest or deeply daft.

I’m not going to claim that there’s some silver bullet for achieving greater social & cultural integration, and I’m not going to pass myself off as any kind of expert about extinguishing militant theism. But I do know that neither of those aims are going to be achieved by winning small-minded & petty restrictions on what religious buildings look like.

EDIT: Yeah, I somehow managed to spell ‘minarets’ wrong. I either need a proof reader or another coffee.


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  1. Hi Neil,

    Is it ok if we crosspost this at Liberal Conspiracy this afternoon?

  2. Yeah, that’s fine. I forgot Sunny’s away… he doesn’t even bother asking these days!

    Alas, I probably won’t be around to defend myself in the comment thread, as I’ll be doing the far more rewarding chore of lesson planning. Lucky me.

  3. Well, if nothing else it’s funny to see the right-whingers dividing amongst themselves between the “libertarians”, those who are all for it, & those who succeed in being both.

    I am no friend to Islam, or any religion. But I certainly wouldn’t have imposed this ban myself. We’ve seen enough draconian, ill thought out, counterproductive laws in our time, haven’t we?

  4. […] The Bleeding Heart Show Hannan on minarets […]

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