Swiss Minarets and European Islam – by Daniel Pipes


What importance has the recent Swiss referendum to ban the building of minarets (spires next to mosques from which the call to prayer is issued)?

Some may see the 57.5 to 42.5 percent decision endorsing a constitutional amendment as nearly meaningless. The political establishment being overwhelmingly opposed to the amendment, the ban will probably never go into effect. Only 53.4 percent of the electorate voted, so a mere 31 percent of the whole population endorses the ban. The ban does not address Islamist aspirations, much less Muslim terrorism. It has no impact on the practice of Islam. It prevents neither the building of new mosques nor requires that Switzerland’s four existing minarets be demolished.

It’s also possible to dismiss the vote as the quirky result of Switzerland’s unique direct democracy, a tradition that goes back to 1291 and exists nowhere else in Europe. Josef Joffe, the distinguished German analyst, sees the vote as a populist backlash against the series of humiliations the Swiss have endured in recent years culminating in the seizure of two businessmen in Libya and the Swiss president’s mortifying apology to win their release.

However, I see the referendum as consequential, and well so beyond Swiss borders.

“Our Lady of the Rosary,” Qatar’s first Christian church, lacks cross, bell, dome, steeple, and signage.

First, it raises delicate issues of reciprocity in Muslim-Christian relations. A few examples: When Our Lady of the Rosary, Qatar‘s first-ever church opened in 2008, it did so minus cross, bell, dome, steeple, or signboard. Rosary’s priest, Father Tom Veneracion, explained their absence: “The idea is to be discreet because we don’t want to inflame any sensitivities.” And when the Christians of a town in Upper Egypt, Nazlet al-Badraman, finally after four years of “laborious negotiation, pleading, and grappling with the authorities,” won permission in October to restore a tottering tower at the Mar-Girgis Church, a mob of about 200 Muslims attacked them, throwing stones and shouting Islamic and sectarian slogans. The situation for Copts is so bad, they have reverted to building secret churches.

Why, the Catholic Church and others are asking, should Christian suffer such indignities while Muslims enjoy full rights in historically Christian countries? The Swiss vote fits into this new spirit. Islamists, of course, reject this premise of equality; Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned his Swiss counterpart of unspecified “consequences” of what he called anti-Islamic acts, implicitly threatening to make the minaret ban an international issue comparable to the Danish cartoon fracas of 2006.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warns of “consequences” for anti-Islamic acts.

Second, Europe stands at a crossroads with respect to its Muslim population. Of the three main future prospects – everyone getting along, Muslims dominating, or Muslims rejected – the first is highly improbable but the second and third seem equally possible. In this context, the Swiss vote represents a potentially important legitimation of anti-Islamic views. The vote inspired support across Europe, as signaled by online polling sponsored by the mainstream media and by statements from leading figures. Here follows a small sampling:

  • France: 49,000 readers at Le Figaro, by a 73-27 percent margin, would vote to ban new minarets in their country. 24,000 readers at L’Express agreed by an 86-12 percent margin, with 2 percent undecided. A leading columnist, Ivan Rioufol of Le Figaro, wrote an article titled “Homage to the Resistance of the Swiss People.” President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted as saying that “the people, in Switzerland as in France, don’t want their country to change, that it be denatured. They want to keep their identity.”
  • Germany: 29.000 readers at Der Spiegel voted 76-21 percent, with 2 percent undecided, to ban minarets in Germany. 17,000 readers of Die Welt voted 82-16 in favor of “Yes, I feel cramped by minarets” over “No, freedom of religion is constrained.”
  • Spain: 14,000 readers of 20 Minutos voted 93-6 percent in favor of the statement “Good, we must curb Islamization’s growing presence” and against “Bad, it is an obstacle to the integration of immigrants.” 35,000 readers of El Mondo replied 80-20 percent that they support a Swiss-like banning of minarets.

Although not scientific, the lop-sidedness of these (and other) polls, ranging from 73 to 93 percent majorities endorsing the Swiss referendum, signal that Swiss voters represent growing anti-Islamic sentiments throughout Europe. The new amendment also validates and potentially encourages resistance to Islamization throughout the continent.

For these reasons, the Swiss vote represents a possible turning point for European Islam.

  • jonnyfromspace

    Well .. Considering the Europeans are such a tolerant bunch, it wouldn't surprise me to see everyone singing kumbaya and salaam alekum all over europe in the next coming years .. not

    Maybe we will see the ugly face of the Europeans, that they try to hide behind their political correctness and pompousness.

    Ironically, any aggression European's show towards the growing insidious muslim population will actually be justified considering the muslim population is walking all over their dignity and way of life in the name of the religion of PEACE and CULTURAL DIVERSITY.

  • truthywood

    People who were responsible for 6 million dead Jews and millions more dead blacks are talking about Islamic extremism, Nice one. No body need a lecture about Islamic extremism from the people who themselves are responsible for most violence in modern history.

  • Proxywar

    It's a start.

  • Strogoff

    Unhapply Europ is now The Soviet European Union and the European council will desavoid the Swiss vote. As you can see, about the French referendum rejection of european constitution and the “Lisbon constitution” have been approved only by parlements ( except Ireland twice voting!) because they know the european peoples will reject it. The reality; is no mind about people opinion and real life.

  • Robert Bernier

    Every American should see this video !

    The ambition of Islam to conquer the world.
    For centuries Islam of the militants have been on the march to conquer the world. We did not notice because we chose not to notice. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in
    1920 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt and was in deep confrontation with the Egyptian government. The current goals for Islam to achieve global domination for a Muslim Caliphate: a world under strict Islamic “Sharia” law, pulling Muslims back to the 7th Century. Consult :

  • stefcho

    Europe just needs good, patriotic leaders who will listen to their citizens and want to prevent Europe from losing everything it values to Islam.

    For the meantime, we are ruled by dictocrats (EU) who loathe democracy, despise the views of their own citizens and take all possible measures to isolate and consolidate their own illegitimate power.

    Europeans can see what Islam is – and don't like what they see.

  • keithrage

    Good news at last.
    The Islamic hypocrisy of double standards is incredible, lets have one Christian church in an Islamic country for every one mosque in a Christian country would not this be fair?

  • Winston

    Europeans must wake up and act soon or they will lose their freedom to Islamic totalitarianism, it really is that simple. These polls show that there are at least some people who can see the danger.

  • The_Inquisitor

    Let's hope they can add 6 million Muzzies to the list and millions more.

  • tlwinslow

    If the Swiss love Islam so much why don't they invite a couple million Pahstuns in along with the Taliban and give them govt.-subsidized acid to splash on girls' faces for trying to go to school? The Muslim Swiss Miss :)

  • Valhalla

    The basic problem is that Islam does not recognize the legitimacy of other religions. It proclaims that it is the only true religion and that followers of other religion should convert to Islam, that Islam must be the Supreme Political/Religious authority (Caliph), that followers of other religions are socially inferior(dhimmis), that the world is divided between Muslims and Infidels, and that the Law of the Land (in all countries) must be Sharia. Islam is a very intolerant religion that must be resisted by all people who believe in Human Rights.

    When Muslims accept other religious meeting places and groups in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and allow other religious prosletizing then Islam can become legitimate. Some Muslim countries do allow other religions but not enough. Instead of the West bowing to Islam, Muslims should show their recognition of other religions which have different belief systems. Especially Muslims in western countries which have religious freedom should not attempt to impose Sharia Law but accept religious freedom, even theb vfreedom of Muslims to convert to other religions..

    Until these things happen, Islam should be resisted as anti-human (in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and an intolerant belief system. . .

  • LindaRivera

    Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan, publicly read an Islamic poem: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and Muslims our soldiers…”

    The fruit of Islam in Europe 2. Awake up Europe

    Europastan: The Islamic Future of Europe

    In Sweden, many Muslim youth wear a t-shirt proclaiming: “2030-then we take over”

    “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”
    —Former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne’s prophetic warning to Europe in a speech at the U.N. In 1974.

    So much suffering of innocents. It is overwhelming. See:

    What a crime against innocent humanity that no one speaks out at anti-freedom, anti-human rights UN against Islamic persecution!

  • aerojack7

    I have absolutely no sympathy for Muslims in Europe or the Americas. You hate, kill and destroy anything that your so-called religion calls you to. I do not believe that it is religious bigotry to deny you access to our freedom loving and open minded societies. You have absolutely nothing to offer us. It will come one day that you and yours are embargoed, isolated and let to rot in your God forsaken lands.

  • Havoc

    This Swiss should not only ban the construction of new minarets and mosques, they should also dismantle those that already exist. Islam is a scourge upon the West.

  • digitaltoast

    So let me get things clear – you're saying the Swiss “were responsible for 6 million dead Jews and millions more dead blacks”?!?

    Either your know something I don't, or they taught me some bad history at school!

    Explain more…

  • Sam B.

    Let them have their minerets on one condition–reciprocity. Crosses and Magen Davids and churches and synagogiues in Saudi Arabia, and every other (pure) Islamic state. They demand “respect” for their religion and their Mo savior? Respect has to be earned, and they haven't earned it. Before they can expect others to respect them, they must respect others–which might be a logical contradiction since they are commanded (by their “glorious” Koran) to be supeme over all other faiths and political systems, including our (US's) own (which excludes respect for their version of “the Other.”

  • USMCSniper

    You babble millions more dead blacks – pray tell how? The truth now.

    Every single Black person living in the Western Hemisphere today would not even exist numerically today had there ancestors not come over from Africa in the 1700's to early 1800's. It does not matter how for these blacks got here or that were brought as slaves. By the way, that was the only method of emmigration of blacks from Africa. The average life expectancy of Blacks in Africa from earliest times to about the early 1900's was in the mid twenties to very thirties at most,with 70%+ infant mortality death rate at birth. This does not even take into account the massive famines, massive outbreaks of ebola, and massive black on black tribal wars that wiped out large segments of regional populations. The average life expectancy of blacks in America even during the periods of slavery was thrice that of any tribe in Africa and the infant mortality rate a tenth or less, no massive famines and no ebola type plagues, and no tribal warefare with mass slaughters like in Africa. Bottom line is that it would not be possible for a single Black person in the Western Hemisphere (numerically) to be alive today that is ti exist at all anywhere in the world unless their ancestors migrated to America. By the way since there was no emigration other than slavery for Blacks. So if you are black, the fact you are alive at all, have every opportunity in the world to achieve any goal you set is something that you should be grateful to history for. As for reparations, there are no slaves alive today, and over 99% of Americans came to America long after slavery was abolished. Blacks living today are not owed anything by their fellow Americans, not even tne time of day. However, the Black Community owes the rest of America alot, as American Blacks, even the poorest, are infinitely better off than any Black in Africa. By the way, the average life expectancy in all African Countries for Blacks even today is still only between 32 years and 39 years of age.

  • joendluli

    The politics of religious architecture may seem ridiculous to some – however to be objective – there are always other points of view such as those of the many (tax paying) Swiss residents/ nationals. The reality is that Switzerland has hundreds of mosques, there are a few minarets, cemeteries have a Muslim exclusive area and Muslims can practice their religion openly and without fear.

    Keep in mind that Muslims do not represent a minority or fringe group that requires especial empathy or 'special needs protection'. Believers number over 1.57 billion. It is THE fastest growing world religion. Islamic States in the Gulf are busy with massive projects to construct Mosques across the EU. This is all viewed as part of the duty of Muslims to spread Islam.

    What about freedom of religion for many Christians in areas of the Middle-East? Ironically in many countries within the region, Westerners are labeled as ‘expatriates’; their own culture is subjugated by that of the ‘Arab citizen’. Westerners are often publicly & officially reminded to adhere to the local Islamic customs and not to offend Muslims in any way. As consequence of this attitude, Christians are often required to practice their faith 'behind the scenes' and not overtly.

    What many EU citizens are concerned about is the changing face of their own European culture. These changes are typically brought about by the social & religious practices which are being imported by visitors/workers/residents, originating from Muslin centric regions such as Arabia & Asia.

  • Jay Stein

    I heard you debated with Wafa Sultan recently. What in the world do you have to debate with her? I'll have to see that, you must have had your head handed to you in that one. Why don't you go debate with someone who knows LESS than you do, instead of someone you should be learning from? Are you kinda dense sometimes?

  • BS77

    There are no churches or synagogues, or Buddhist temples in many Islamic countries, but the idiot liberal shrugs and permits the building of mosques throughout Europe……THe Idiot Liberal grovels at the feet of the invader….hoping the PC mega tolerance and red carpet treatment will make the world a happy warm and fuzzy place. Unfortunately, once the jihadists get a majority….the secular liberals, atheist humanists will be given a choice: convert or die. So, tolerance is a one way street…..we must tolerate the mosques and burqas….they do not have to tolerate anything. The liberal just stands there like an idiot hoping for the best.

  • Len Powder

    Let's make Muslims in Christian countries feel like dhimmis in Muslim countries. Then we will realize the socialist ideal of “equality”. Who can possibly have a problem with that?

  • chocopot

    How politically incorrect of you (LOL).

  • chocopot

    Indeed, Islam's goal is to conquer the world. They have stated this clearly, time and time and time again. Join them and convert, or be killed. One day the fools who run the West will wake up and realize (hopefully before it's too late) that we are facing a choice: kill all of them, or they will surely kill all of us. The reality is that it will have to be one way or the other. Which way do you want it?

    This is a statement I wrote perhaps five years ago and have posted on FPM a number of times before:

    It has become abundantly clear that Islam is not a religion in the sense that we, in the West, view and understand religion. Islam is a political ideology, inherently hostile to the West and all for which the West stands. On that basis alone, anyone of the Muslim faith should be prohibited from entering this country, and those who are here should be expelled. Furthermore, all mosques should be closed immediately and the practice of Islam forbidden and made into a criminal act. Lest you think I am going too far, give the matter some thought. It is well known that the overwhelming majority of mosques in Western nations are used for preaching and teaching hate, hate for all things not Islamic and for all persons not Muslim. Furthermore, nearly all are used to raise funds for terrorist groups and many are used to actually recruit terrorists. Most Muslims do not view themselves as members of the particular nation from which they come or in which they live, but as Muslims only, part of a worldwide group (the “umma”), who have repeatedly and clearly stated that their goal is to take over the world. There is no misunderstanding or misinterpreting those words, words which have been repeated ad infinitum over the last several decades; they plan to take over the world and plunge it into darkness under the veil of hatred, oppression, death, and destruction that has been Islam for 1,400 years. And few, if any, in the West who are in positions of power/authority see or care to see what is really happening. Those words are not the belief of a few ‘radicals’ as their many apologists would have you believe, but the belief shared by virtually all Muslims. Unless our ‘leaders’ want their children and grandchildren to live in a world of darkness and oppression under the banner of Islam, they had better act soon to do something about it. As has been said many times of late, the Constitution is not a suicide pact. There are limits to the rights bestowed by it, and permitting those who wish to destroy our country to continue to enter freely and to undermine our way of life is surely not what the Constitution intended. Daniel Pipes, for one, keeps talking about all the ‘moderate’ Muslims out there but wonders why so few speak up. It’s because there really are only a few. He is blinded by his own desire, the desire to believe that Muslims are like anyone else, that most of them are just nice, good-hearted, regular people like us. But he’s wrong. Very few want to live in the West as Westerners or coexist with the West. The vast majority of Muslims either actively or passively support the precise and clearly-stated goals of the Muslim leaders: Islam is going to take over the world, one way or another, and no one will stand in their way. While we still have the numbers and the power to change that, someone had better do something. Mankind is facing a truly dark future otherwise.

  • CB

    Excellent! Hope to see this flourish and the pseudo-dominance of Islamic ideology – NOTE, critics, that I refer to an autocratic Shariah-based, Allah-oriented Islamic state, not Muslims' private religious belief system – diminish as it needs to in order for democracy and integration to remain prominent European values.

    Jonnyfromspace – I'm guessing you're from the USA, or at least not from Europe, since you clearly haven't a clue what is being talked about. Nobody is targetting the general Muslim population; they are making a stand against a considerably more serious sociopolitical system. Google 'Islam is the solution' and read up on Ed Husain or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and you might start to have the faintest clue what you're talking about.

  • GJTryon

    Judging by the violence you're visiting upon the english language, truthywood, I'd say it's a fair inference that you may be of the buttock-bouncing persuasion yourself. In which case, why confine ourselves to modern history when the entire sweep of Muslim atrocity across 14 centuries beckons? Not for nothing do Muslims routinely express approval of Hitler, whose Arab prototype in bloody-mindedness was none other than your own Prophet, all blessings be upon his tormentors in hell. Like you say, nice one!

  • Len Powder

    It's been estimated that since Mohammed the Islamic 'religion' has produced the deaths of 100 million people, more than those killed by Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot. You need to read some objective, factual history books about Islam and suspend your ideology long enough to get an education.