Mosques and Minarets
Ironically, the very same extremist groups who have called for war against Switzerland because it has banned minarets have repeatedly turned a blind eye as dozens of mosques are regularly bombed and destroyed by suicide bombers all over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The banning of minarets in a country deemed “moderate” and “welcoming” took some by surprise and confirmed the beliefs of other that Islamophobia in Europe is on the rise. Switzerland, not remote from racism and discrimination, has once again added an infamous action that will land it high on the list for many when it comes to discriminations against Muslims.
The initiative for the ban was launched originally in 2007 by the Egerkinger Committee, which was composed of an individual who passionately felt the minaret was against the growth of the Swiss nation. They continued to argue that “the construction of a minaret has no religious meaning”, and that “the minaret is far more the symbol of religious-political power claim”. The group filed a petition in line with Swiss regulation and forced the government to call for a referendum amending the constitution to prohibit the construction of minarets.
The government of Switzerland sharply criticized the initiative as a human rights violation and urged the Swiss people to vote against the referendum, but to no avail.
Muslims and Muslim nations alike have taken to various media outlets in voicing their outrage over such a ban. Rightfully so, Muslims around the world have become furious over such a policy. Although it provides a great deal of satisfaction to see such awareness in the Muslim community, it does beg the question – are we hypocrites?
The importance of minarets aside, the very same extremist groups who have called for war against Switzerland because it has banned minarets have repeatedly turned a blind eye as dozens of mosques are regularly bombed and destroyed by suicide bombers all over Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. What happened to their sense of outrage? The sanctity of a mosque is by far more important than the minaret standing next to it, and the need for Muslim countries (and communities) to stop funding and supporting such movements is extremely essential.
Sure, the banning of minarets is a blow to the Muslim community which sees them as an icon of Islam (like the crescent). But why the silence from mainstream Muslims when the FBI recently attempted to seize the Alavi Foundation and four Islamic centers that it owns? With a few organizations expressing their displeasure, most of the Muslim community (in North America and overseas) remained silent as the United States government may very well be in the process of shutting down four (and possibly more) Shia mosques in the country.
Despite the fact that Muslims are passionate over the discrimination against our basic freedoms, the importance lies not in the towering minarets but in the ability for us to sanctify our own values. As long as the Muslim world watches silently while mosques are blown up, worshipers are killed, and Islamic centers are seized, the forces against Islam will continue to prevail. As long as we do not stand up from within, the outside world will continue to trample over us.
The minaret ban is an infringement of basic freedoms of religion and expression. But while expressing our deep outrage over the minaret ban in Switzerland, let us first stand up for mosques and worshipers in Pakistan, Iraq, and the United States.