Juan Cole on the Swiss minaret ban

minaretYesterday, the people of Switzerland voted to make the construction of minarets illegal in their country. Minarets, as you may know, are the narrow towers adjoining mosques from which Muslims are called to prayer. The action, which is sure to prompt legal action on behalf of Switzerland’s 5% Muslim minority, is being furiously debated online today. Some are defending the action of the Swiss, stating that it’s only fair since churches can’t be built in Islamic countries, but as local History professor Juan Cole reminds us on his blog, that’s really not the case. Here’s a clip from his post, entitled Swiss Islamophobia Betrays Enlightenment Ideals:

…Others will allege that Muslims do not grant freedom of religion to Christians in their midst. First of all, this allegation is not true if we look at the full range of the countries where the 1.5 billion Muslims live. Among the nearly 60 Muslim-majority states in the world, only one, Saudi Arabia, forbids the building of churches. Does Switzerland really want to be like Saudi Arabia?

And, as luck would have it, the sometimes controversial professor will be here in Ypsi this Thursday evening, speaking at Eastern Michigan University (PDF) on U.S./Middle East relations and the Obama administrations handling of critical issues.

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  1. Kristin
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    Another opportunity for the Swiss to be embarrassed down the road. It’s just architecture. Do they think they’re going to cut down on the Islam by keeping the mosques flat?

  2. KT
    Posted December 3, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    There’s another good speaker in the area this evening – Steward Brand.

    Hacking Civilization
    Thursday, December 03, 2009
    5 PM

    Stewart Brand is president of The Long Now Foundation and co-founder
    of Global Business Network. He created the Whole Earth Catalog, and
    co-founded the Hackers Conference and The WELL. His books include The
    Clock of the Long Now; How Buildings Learn; and The Media Lab. His
    most recent book is Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto
    (October 2009).


  3. Robert
    Posted December 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been campaigning to outlaw the construction of all phallic structures. So at least this is a move in the right direction.

  4. Geoff
    Posted March 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Cole is lying, or ignorant. Church construction from Malaysia to Morocco have been interfered with, judicially or extrajudicially, for some time. It’s not the mark of academic professionalism to have missed this, unless one has a particular axe to swing, if you’ll pardon the pun.

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