Tag: Switzerland

The Swiss Minaret Vote – Now that some of the dust has settled…

As probably everyone has heard by now, the Swiss sovereign voted by about 57% of the popular vote and the assent of 22 of the 26 full and half-cantons (States) to write into our Constitution that the construction of new minarets is banned, and this despite opposition to this People’s Party-supported initiative from the government, from parliament, from all parties (except the People’s Party and the fringe Protestant Democratic Party), the unions, the churches, industry, banking – pretty much every establishmentarian institution.

I’m not happy about the ban – it was a pointless affront to a section of our population.  Swiss zoning laws are arbitrary and byzantine enough to stop virtually anything if the local population put their mind to it, so the ban was not necessary.  True, a minaret is not essential for a mosque, but it’s only the conservative fringe like the Wahhabis who are actually opposed to it.  The call of the muezzin is banned anyway (not consistent with noise regulations- and it would be drowned out by church bells).

The vote was in some elements misdirected, but in others it spoke to legitimate concerns.  Popular votes are a rum thing, and you’re only given the option of voting “yes” or “no”, there is no possibility of a nuanced response.  But I certainly don’t think it is any “crisis of democracy”, or “failure” of anything except the failure of the political elites to deal with the issues that led to the “yes” vote.  

Lucerne (Photo Essay)

Lucerne is somewhere close to paradise. In the 14th Century, it helped lead central Switzerland to independence from the Hapsburgs. Today, with good reason, it is a popular tourist destination.  

Behind the town is the 7000 foot Pilatus.