Thursday, December 10, 2009

First They Came for the Minarets

[Have been thinking of posting this for some time now, and R also reminded me. Here goes.]

Some weeks ago, O pointed me to a controversy in Switzerland, where there was a referendum happening, which would amend the Swiss constitution to ban the construction of minarets, the slender towers that often accompany mosques.

N, our group's concerned muslim, complained about how he had a bad feeling about this, and that things will be very bad if this ban passes. I, the ever optimist, asserted that the Swiss people are better than that, and they would certainly not allow such a stupid thing to come to pass. After all, their parliament had, on many occasions, thwarted similar efforts aimed at banning minarets at local levels.

Needless to say, I was wrong.

The referendum had a 53.4% turnout, and 57.5% people voted to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland.

Craziness I say! [and laziness, on behalf of those who did not vote]

Definitely makes me think of this epic poem from WW-2, and of what might soon be happening in other countries. N tells me there are similar discussions being launched in France too, and a French colleague of mine admitted, with sadness, that if a similar vote happened in France today, the results would be similar to the Swiss ones :-(.

And in case you have any doubts that this was an anti-islam or racist ballot, I present to you the "promotional" poster for this campaign.

[from wikipedia]

I guess my views and anger/frustration are best expressed by Jon Stewart in the clip below.


And as if this was not enough, I came across this wonderful piece in the LA Times which pointed out how (in)security about one's employment is a bigger contributor than (lack of) education in whether or not one will believe in conspiracy theories. Given stupid anti-people votes such as the Swiss one are a result of too many people believing in lies, and given that the world's economic situation isn't in its best shape, I can only shudder at the thought of what other "democratic" actions are to come.

So, what do _you_ think?


  1. don't be dumb9:25 AM

    You are naive...too bad...or r u pretending that u r naive?...anyway it'll be better if u realize that PSEUDO-secularism is no longer fashionable. Islam has been hurting humanity for the last 1400 yrs. the 'infidels' can't take it any more. The Swiss have done the right thing, they have every right to stop the tentacles of islam from engulfing their land.And yes, don't try to make it a racism's not...but yes, u can call it anti islam.

  2. @dbd: I personally believe that not only Islam, but _religion as a whole_ has been hurting the world for many years, but we have criminal laws to protect us from crimes. I don't see any reason to ban people of a faith, as long as we ensure the rule of law (no one allowed to harm another, etc. .. you know, things that are a part of any law). Freedom of religion and expression is a basic rights, and should be given by any country that wants to call itself civilized.

    Also, since you talk of naivete, you know that "people of this religion have been ruining the world for x years" was also used against Jews. Or are you blissfully unaware of this [or perhaps, in agreement with them]?

    And as far as this not being racist, what do you call the kick-out-the-black-sheep poster?


  3. don't be dumb10:35 AM

    Freedom of religion is all fine..but what if the basic tenets of a 'religion' consists of hatred for other humans, and main goal is achieving political control over non-followers by conversion, suppression et al, then i guess any civilized society must try to do everything to curtail the proliferation of such a religion. Allowing the followers of an alien, intolerant,barbaric faith to mutilate the cultural fabric of a nation must be prevented. It's an act in self defence and there is no need to feel apologetic about it.

    u said:
    ""people of this religion have been ruining the world for x years" was also used against Jews."

    you are putting nazis and the Swiss on one pedestal and Jews and muslims on the other..And that's why I talked of naivete - the point is- the islamic menace has to be seen the way it has been..We have recorded history of the atrocities the practitioners of this faith have unleashed on non-muslims. I don't care if some other intolerant group did some act of hatred on some assumed grievances(like nazis against jews). Islamic terror is not imagined terror.. And I am not "simply saying this" - look at the history of like a the last 1400 yrs - how islam spread and how it wreaked havoc everywhere it went. I feel that if somebody chooses to ignore/negate this he/she is either naive/pseudo-secular/muslim.

    I agree that the kick-out-the-black-sheep poster was indeed racist, but the Swiss mandate was not - it was against a religion - Islam.

  4. I'm sorry, but I really don't have time for this.

    I personally am an agnostic, and believe that all religions are based on dubious grounds - but I also firmly believe in the rule of law and the right to freedom of belief in whichever mass-delusion one wishes to believe in. As long as you do not break the law, you might as well believe in Xenu, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I don't care.

    I do not think their is a point in arguing with you about the fine points of the anti-islam since you seem to have made up your mind. Let's agree to disagree.

    I just hope, for your sake, that you treat _all_ muslims with extreme disdain, and do not pretend to treat them as "friends". At least your inner beliefs will then be consistent with your external conduct.


  5. While reading references mentioned in the article ( I read a comment under the news item that covered the referendum. The comment goes like this:-
    H.M. Fischmann, Austria said:-
    How many Arabic countries allow Christian steeples or Jewish Synagogues? I seem to remember an Islamic Country destroying one of the oldest Buddhist sites. Did the Swiss who was given a hard time in Iran ask about steeples and minarets in that "oh so tolerant" society?

    May be The poem you mentioned can go like this too:-
    First they came for the Afgans, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Afgani;
    Then they came for the Persians, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Persian;
    Then they came for the Africans, and I did not speak out—because I was not a African;
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    An interesting point to note here that if someone believes in laws of nature and not try to create or follow their own laws (sometimes referred to as 'religion' or 'modern science') may be he would be in a position to understand the pseudo-secular, atheist like terms a little deeper. However events like the one mentioned here is not a 'Taali', jo ek haath se baji.

  6. @religion of nature: Not sure what your point was, but if your guiding principle of life is that someone else's misdeeds give you the license to perform misdeeds, then I have nothing to discuss with you.

    There are many middle eastern countries which don't treat people of other religions properly, but they are NOT considered to be tolerant places.

    If the Swiss are OK with being considered as a an intolerant people like Iran and Saudi Arabia, good for them!

    I personally do not see how two wrongs make a right. Just because someone asked you for a bribe, does it make it OK for you to ask for a bribe?

    P.S. Please do not compare religion and modern science - the former cannot be questioned, by design, while the latter rests on the basic principle that your claims can be questioned and you have to prove them conclusively by experiments.

  7. Anonymous11:13 AM

    What is the need for a minaret? Call for prayer or to focus on a symbol of islam. With the advent of loud speakers the initial reasoning of having minarets is irrelevant now. The swiss used a democratic process. let democracy thrive. IMHO obeying the rule of a land is prudent. Read what Irfan hussain has to tell @


  8. @Shiju: Personally, I do not see the need of any places of worship, let alone minarets or other sub-structures. That said, it should be a _choice_ of those making the mosque, and not a dictat from the state. Of course the minaret is a symbol of islam, as is the mosque it is attached to. What is the question here? BTW, loud speakers for call to prayers is already illegal in Switzerland. This vote is about forcing a specific community to not showcase their culture/beliefs.

    Democratic process is fine, but it cannot be used to override basic human rights. I am also horrified by the gay marriage ban imposed in California by a democratic vote. A democracy does not mean that the majority can undermine the rights of a minority.

    The article you sent is an interesting one, and indeed, points to a valid concern - how to properly address the concerns of the young childen of muslim immigrants in the west, who think differently than their parents, but also feel alienated in their host countries. However, "democratic" incidents such as the minaret ban in Switzerland only serve to _increase_ this feeling of alienation.

  9. your logic seems to go like this ... islam is bad ok...but then "I believe" all_other_religions are also ppl are not against other religions=> let's leave islam. Pretty Moronic...

    islam is a criminal religion as is evident from it's behavior in recent and far past, so what is wrong if the swiss want to prevent islamization of their beloved country?

    why are you shying away from debating the points against islam. Why do you expect others to become a pseudo liberal and turn a blind eye to a malaise like this? What is preventing you from taking an impartial and objective view of the situation?

  10. Anonymous11:16 AM

    The trouble with Islam

    The myth of Islamophobia

  11. @ic: Here is how my logic goes.

    Islam by itself is neither bad nor scary (not any more than other religions).

    Fundamentalist Islam is a problem, and I do not want it for either the Swiss, or the Iranians, for that matter.

    Banning minarets is NOT going to solve the fundamentalist islam problem in switzerland. In fact, it will only prove the fundamentalists within Swiss muslims right, since they also say that "the swiss do not like the muslims".

    There is nothing wrong with the Swiss wanting their country to not become fundamentalist Islamic. But amending the constition to specifically target the people of a certain faith, many of whom are NOT fundamentalist and do NOT impose their culture/belief of others is against basic human rights. In fact, isn't disallowing others from freely practicing their religious beliefs one of the things you do NOT like about Islamic countries like Afghanistan or Iran? Why become the monster you hate so much?

    And if the Swiss (and you) indeed believe that Islam is so bad, then why do these empty half-hearted things - why not pass an amendment expleling all muslims from Switzerland? Do the right-wingers not have the guts to say what they really think? Or are their masters scared of losing cheap labor?

    Hope this clears up my stance.
    P.S. If you want to continue the discussion and defend the rights of the Swiss to prevent the "Islamization" of their beloved country, please begin your comment with your definition of "Islamization". I believe we might be defining it differently.

  12. "Islamization"- in short - mutilating the non-islamic nation's cultural and political landscape by hate filled, regressive, anti-women, anti humanistic, anti-'normal' tendencies of islam; imposition of shariah in various forms, undermining and bullying of the non-islamic people and finally use islam to take control of the politics of the host country.

    "Islam by itself is neither bad nor scary (not any more than other religions)."
    -- You are WRONG. If you really want to appreciated this, I'd advise you to read Quran, Hadiths and correlate their contents with the history of the islamic conquest of different parts of the world. Islam is not a religion, it's a hate driven propaganda machine designed to decimate nations culturally and politically. Don't think like a bigot, be a rationalist - and you'll understand.

    "Fundamentalist Islam is a problem,"
    -- :D ... Do you know of any non-fundamentalist version of Islam? Remember Islam is what is contained in the Quran and Hadiths - ask any of your muslim friends, they'll tell you....You are not free to interpret islam the way you like...there is only one interpretation..the one it's prophet and followers have understood itsince 7th century. if u deviate, u risk the chance of getting killed in the name of the merciful allah.!!! And if one fine day a muslim want's to leave this religion, the prophet has ordained that he's gotta leave this world too..Engage in some inter-faith discussions with your muslim friends - if you are courageous enough!! :-) Ask them if islam allows them to respect other religions and non-believers ? Ask them what the quran says about dar-ul-harb and dar-ul-islam..And if possible, make a blog post about your findings. :D

  13. "Banning minarets is NOT going to solve the fundamentalist islam problem in switzerland. In fact, it will only prove the fundamentalists within Swiss muslims right, since they also say that "the swiss do not like the muslims"."
    -- WRONG Again. Banning minerets is a clear signal to the apologists of islam that such an intolerant and barbaric faith is unwelcome in a civilized society. Why should the Swiss-or-for-that-matter any country allow landscape changing cultural invasion by a dehumanizing creed ? Sometime back I visited Kashi Vishwanath temple at Varanasi--I am sure the swiss don't want mosques and minerats towering over their monuments of cultural/religious reverence. It's better to nip the problem in the bud. Left wing people will call the Swiss intolerant...but then shouldn't we bw intolerant towards a regressive and dangerous cult like islam?

    Let me be very frank - If something is bad , it needs to be reformed. The onus is on the practictioners of islam to reform themselves - NOT on the host country to accept them and their dangerous absurdities. And since islam doesn't aloow any kind of reform - we are left with no other choice but to do something like the swiss have done.

    "isn't disallowing others from freely practicing their religious beliefs one of the things you do NOT like about Islamic countries like Afghanistan or Iran? Why become the monster you hate so much?"
    -- if somebody practices one's religion without offending others, nobody is gonna complain. But this is certainly not the case with with Islam. If one's religious beliefs are detrimental to peaceful coexistance with others, sane people will oppose such an ideology. As somebody said in the previous comments - pseudo liberalism has made whole generations of people naive..the sooner ppl get out of this naivette and attitude of denial- the better.

    "And if the Swiss (and you) indeed believe that Islam is so bad, then why do these empty half-hearted things - why not pass an amendment expleling all muslims from Switzerland?"
    --If Muslims can override what their hatred filled tenets of their faith dictates them to do, I don't think anybody(including me) would be wary of them. The swiss are not attacking the muslim beings, they have attacked symbols of their itolerant and regressive faith.

    "Do the right-wingers not have the guts to say what they really think?"
    --yes they are not the most fearless creatures on the planet...remember Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen and the danish cartoonists and numerous such people every where on the planet...islam works through know...but times - surely they r a changin!!

    "Or are their masters scared of losing cheap labor?"
    --hehe...what's that !!! Looks like you are a Communist fundamentalist??

    I guess this was my last comment here...I hope you'll enquire about the problems with islam in greater detail, keeping your preconceived notions at bay, sans the mask of pseudo-liberalism... thanks for reading.

  14. @ic: The way you define "islamization", I agree that the Swiss, and indeed any people, should prevent it from happenning to their country.

    However, banning minarets is not the way to go.

    I agree that Islam needs reform, much like Hinduism did in the days of sati and untouchability. Raja Ram Mohun Roy and others reformed Hinduism to a large extent, and I know that moderate Muslims are trying to get rid of the misogynist and other pernicious tendencies in Islam also. However, hate-filled votes such as the Swiss one only hurt the moderate cause.

    As for my multi-faith credentials, being on the interfaith council at USC for 2 years and having discussions with my many muslim officemates about religion counts for something, IMO.

    Anyways, let's agree to disagree, and wait for a year. Next christmas, I will post an entry here with an update on what affect the Swiss vote had.


  15. Animesh,

    Drop it man. The rss has succeeded in creating a new generation fed with the propoganda that passes for testbooks in their schools.

    There is a movement afoot. We will see a nazi party like situation in India for a few years, with the hate-persecution-gas chamber cycle that we've seen before. Then the World will wake up, take them out, and we will have a new World order.

    Nostradamus predicted something along these lines actually...

  16. I wish these guys would watch programmes on BBC or the Australia Network where experts talk of the the wonders that the spread of the religion under discussion brought to the Western world.
    Unfortunately, those programmes are in English & therefore can't be understood by the rss types.

  17. This is not the only forum - RSS types are very active and very vocal everywhere just read the comments posted to the Wall Street Journal stories about any Muslim or Islam and you'll get the idea. I personally get a good laugh out of those quite entertaining statements.

    People who think and people who choose to follow can't be the same. It is the fundamental right of everybody to lead his/her life as he/she wishes, if they choose not to be Amartya Sen or Abul Kalam - let them be - why would you create competition for yourself :) Guessing from the comments and their sad loneliness - they are no SRKs or Madhuris either :) in looks and talent.

    Don't worry about anything and take care of yourself and your eye.

  18. Maybe they should all try & watch this. It's not been put together by Muslims. It's been put together by Westerners.

    Truly great stuff.

    If you can get your hands on a DVD, please do let me know.

    Otherwise, try & catch it on the Australia Network at these times:

  19. It was nice talking to you, uncle and auntie this morning. Go to

    and read the comments in response to the Lakki Marwat suicide attack. I couldn't copy paste the link here.

  20. Animesh,

    Cheers ! Good to know that your eye-problem is cured now.

    Dude you have got a PhD...and I guess u have enough intellect to see things as they are, maybe you are just misinformed/ignorant - that's most Indians are - as a far as issues like indian history and religion are concerned - the so called "secular" media's and marxist historians' assault on the collective psyche of the indian youth has been immense.

    Comparing India's Sati/caste system with the barbarism of Islam is a no-brainer. For one, sati or untouchability are NOT part of hinduism in any way - these were rather social problems that evolved over time, and were never a part of Hinduism to begin with. If a Hindu doesn't believe in caste system, it's a personal matter - he/she doesn't stop being a Hindu - this behaviour is not contrary to the Gita/Mahabharat/Ramayana/Vedas etc. I wonder how many Hindus know about "Manu Smriti" and how many of them give any importance to what some king named Manu had to say about women or so called "lower castes" !! I feel the problems in Hindu society are ascribable to social customs(RuDhiwaadita- as they say) rather than anything to do with "Hinduism" as such. And that's the reason Rammohan Roy et al were able to eradicate the tragic evils of our society, because freeing the society from these vile customs was NOT against Hinduism.

    However, this is not the case with Islam. As any devout follower of this religion will tell you - it's incorrigible - as the Quran is allah's own words. That's it. We Hindus' "sarvadharma samabhav" and "vasudhaiva kutumbkam" have no equivalents in Islam. The intellectual freedom that is inherent in Hinduism doesn't exist in other religions (see the sheer number of interpretations of our scriptures...the freedom to embrace any path that one believe's in - is missing in other religions)

    The emails circulated by Indian Mujahideen attackers had many referneces to Quranic verses...During my last summer break, I started reading the Quran and Hadiths from multiple web translations- to confirm their conents.- I remember even stumbling upon USC's site on quran .I had read only a few chapters and it made me understand the Jihadi mindset. I wonder why educated Muslims fall prey to it's ideology... and rather than trying to do something about it, are in perennial denial mode. To correct something- the first step is to accept that something is wrong...

  21. Aman,
    Ever heard of something known as "ad hominem"? Click on this link to know more!!!

    And Yes, everyday we are seeing the "wonders" that Islam has brought to the world. A third of India has been already converted into this "wonderful" zone - Afghanistan+Pakistan+Bangladesh - See what your favourite religion has turned these regions into!

    Btw, I am a busy grad student - never got the opportunity to explore RSS et al. Studying Indian history is a hobby and have enjoyed debating throughout my school and undergrad life. And yes, I don't shy away from calling a spade a spade...Peace!

  22. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Islam - Religion of Peace!!!
    For regular updates Check this out:

  23. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Islam - Religion of Peace!!!
    For regular updates Check this out:

  24. ic:

    tameez se baat kar. No need to call it my favourite religion & all that stuff.

    If you're really that interested in History, why do you not watch the documentary. Maybe it will open your eyes?