Monday, November 30, 2009

About the Swiss and Minarets . . .

I have mixed feelings about 57% of Swiss voters banning the construction of minarets. My first reaction was to be appalled. As my good readers know well, freedom of religion is important to me.

But how much is this about freedom of religion? One can still be Muslim in Switzerland, just as I am Anglican in America. But my freedom of religion does not mean I have the right to build a 300 foot spire with loud speakers that periodically proclaim “Eat cake or die!”

And as pointed out here (in an albeit over the top manner), mosques and minarets are not just Muslim church buildings.

A mosque is NOT a Muslim "church." It is a Muslim "church" and a Muslim "community center" and a Muslim "armory" and a Muslim "army recruiting center" and a Muslim everything.

And that comes complete with a loud and obnoxious call to prayer multiple times a day. Yes, more obnoxious than “Eat cake or die!” Minarets, especially when placed in areas with many non-Muslims, are nothing if not a form of religious bullying.

And, as Cranmer boldly points out , Switzerland is still a democracy not under the thumb of Gulag EU. So if the Swiss look at the rest of Europe and its foolishness and say, “No, we will not be bullied by Muslims,” and put limits on Muslim freedom of religion that do not violate human rights, then that is their right to do so.

So on second thought, I do not blame the Swiss. It would be nice to have absolute freedom of religion. But as long as people use religion to bully, abuse, or even kill the innocent, then even that freedom which I cherish and defend must have its limits.

I still understand why many disagree with how the Swiss have limited that freedom. But I wonder how many of those critics are non-Muslims who have lived close to a minaret.

1 comment:

Sir Watkin said...

"my freedom of religion does not mean I have the right to build a 300 foot spire"

Yes, but neither are you forbidden from doing so (subject to various constraints).

People are always forgetting that there is an intermediate category between rights and prohibitions. As well as those things that one has a right to do and those one is forbidden from doing, there is a vast range of things that the law cares not a fig for - you have "licence" to do them, but should you be prevented the law will not intervene on your side.

Thus there is:

1. Duty, which you must do (e.g. paying your taxes) - and if you do not, the state will make you.

2. Right, which you may do (e.g. practising a religion) - and if someone tries to stop you, the state will defend you.

3. Licence, which you may do (e.g. building a spire) - but if someone interferes the state will do nothing.

4. Prohibition/crime, which you may not do (e.g. robbing a bank) - and if you do the state will punish you.

Much trouble is caused by confusing 2. and 3.

The more thing in 3. the better - as it's the only category where the state refuses to get involved. (Sadly the general tendency is to reduce this category.) So prima facie the Swiss decision to move minarets from 3. to 4. is a bad thing.