Egypt: When did Saudi Arabia become Switzerland’s role model?

 On Sunday, November 29, 57.5% of Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of new minarets atop mosques, paving the way for a constitutional amendment.  The referendum will affect the building of new minarets–not mosques–and will not effect Switzerland’s four existing minarets. Jillian York covered the initial reactions from the Arab and Muslim blogosphere. Between support and opposition the ban is still creating ripples.

Mona ElTahawy has one question for Switzerland and other European countries enthralled by the right wing:

When did Saudi Arabia become your role model?

Even before 57.5 percent of Swiss voters cast ballots on Sunday to ban the building of minarets by Muslims, it was obvious that Switzerland’s image of itself as a land of tolerance was as full of holes as its cheese. When the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) came to power in 2007, it used a poster showing a white sheep kicking black sheep off the country’s flag. This was no reference to black sheep as rebels — the right wing doesn’t do cute — but to skin color and foreigners.

Posters the SVP displayed before Sunday’s referendum showed women covered from head to toe in black, standing in front of phallic-looking minarets. Such racism preceded and fed into the bigotry that fueled the referendum.

Still enraged by the notion of politicizing the minarets, ElTahawy says:

Minarets are used to issue the call to prayer, not to recruit people to Islamic political groups. If the SVP finds such prayer calls too noisy, I’d like to see it try to stifle church bells.

Mohaly hoped that

the swiss people have had proven to the world how unbiased and coherent they are, and instead of voting against building minarets, they could have simply voted for having the most prominent swiss product "Clocks" fixed over each new minaret -check the picture-. It can be a beautiful architecture holding a practical instrument that can be of benefit for everyone without positiong it as a "Muslim Missile"!

Nawara Negm pointed a finger at bigotry

المنافقين في الدرك الاسفل من النار ما يجيش واحد يعمل عبيط على حرق تلات بيوت في سنة ونص على ناس بتصلي ولما يسمع عن منع المآذن في سويسرا يلطم ويصوت
Hypocrites will be condemned to the lowest depths of hell! Here is a man who turned a deaf ear to three houses that were burnt down because Christians were praying in them and now he is crying wolf over the Swiss banning minarets!

Nawara is reminding those who are calling for tolerance now of their earlier intolerance

انا عايزة اسمع رأي الناس اللي بتقول ان المسيحيين في مصر "مستفزين" وسهنات ومية من تحت تبن ونفسهم يرجعوا مصر مسيحية وبناء على كده فمنعهم من بناء كنائس وحرقهم ده "رد فعل" طبيعي لاستفزازاتهم المستمرة! …. انا عايزة اعرف رأي اللي بيبرر منع دور عباداتهم وحرق بيوتهم فعلا بقى في منع المآذن، مجرد المآذن، لا هدوا جامع ولا منعوا بناء جامع، بس منظر المئذنة مضايقهم، يا ترى إيه رأيهم دلوقت؟
I want to listen to those who find Egyptian Christians provocative, sly, and canniving. That they are conspiring to turn Egypt into a Christian country and that this is why it is only fair to burn their houses and stop them from building churches. I really want to hear what such people have to say about banning the minarets – I am just talking about the minarets! Not the mosques!

In her post, Mona ElTahawy also touched base on this issue saying:

The Grand Mufti of Egypt, for example, denounced the ban as an “attack on freedom of belief.” I would take him more seriously if he denounced in similar terms the difficulty Egyptian Christians face in building churches in his country. They must obtain a security permit just for renovations.

Last year, the first Catholic church — bearing no cross, no bells and no steeple — opened in Qatar, leaving Saudi Arabia the only country in the Persian Gulf that bars the building of houses of worship for non-Muslims. In Saudi Arabia, it is difficult even for Muslims who don’t adhere to the ultra-orthodox Wahhabi sect; Shiites, for example, routinely face discrimination.

Bigotry must be condemned wherever it occurs.

Muslims against Sharia found Libya’s President Gaddafi’s statement funny; he said "Swiss minaret ban invites al-Qaeda attacks"

Therein lies the assumption that all acts of jihadist terrorism must be a response to some kind of provocation (real or imagined) from non-Muslims: after all, the apologists keep telling us "defensive" jihad is quite alright, caliph or no caliph.

The Fraggle-haired dictator also quips "I don’t think anyone in the Muslim world will from now on authorise the construction of a church."

This is ironic, of course, since 1.) it’s not like the Muslim world has welcomed churches or freedom of worship with open arms up to now, and 2.) restrictions on building non-Muslim houses of worship are enshrined in the Pact of Umar, which has provided a far-reaching precedent for oppressing non-Muslims in a variety of ways. For that matter, the minaret ban does not restrict worship or the construction of mosques.

While Shokeir is monitoring signs of Western Countries getting fed up with the symbols of Islam

الغرب بدأ يضيق بالإسلام ومايرمز له ، فتلك دولة ترفض النقاب وأخرى ترفض الحجاب في هيئات بعينها ، وتلك تدافع عن صور مسيئة ، وتلك ترحب بأفلام تسيئ للقرآن ، وأخيرا أخرى تضيق برؤية المآذن بعدما منعت من قبل رفع صوت الآذان
The west is getting fed up with Islam and whatever symbols it has; here is a country that bans Niqab and there is another that prohibits Hijab. This one defends offensive pictures and that one welcomes movies that abuses the Qura’an. And now this: after silencing the calls for prayer, they banned minarets altogether.

Hassan El Helali, on the other hand, is relieved and he highlighted one of the comments on his post:

مبروك لسويسرا، و"هارد لك" للجماعات، إياها، التي تتعيش وتتكسب من تجارة الدين من المنظومة البدوية، وتتباكى على الحريات المسفوحة في ربوع أوروبا، وكأن البلاد التي فروا منها "تشرشر" الحريات منها "شرشرة"، وعلى "أبو موزة". وإذا كانت أوروبا مستبدة ولا تحترم الأديان فلم لا يطلبوا اللجوء السياسي والإنساني في إمارة المحاكم الإسلامية في الصومال، وهناك سيتعرفون جيداً على معنى الحرية على أكمل وجه.
Congratulations Switzerland! Hard Luck to "those" groups that live and thrive on commercializing religion stemming out of their tribal organization. Those groups crying over the violated freedoms of Muslims living in Europe as though their countries of birth – the countries they escaped – are soaked in tolerance. Fine! If Europe is guilty of bigotry, why didn’t they ask for political asylum or immigrant rights in an Islamic colony in Somalia? – for this is where they would have learnt the true meaning of freedom.