Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Swiss vote to ban minarettes...

The Swiss people recently voted to ban the building of minarettes. People in western nations are waking to the fact that we are at war. This war is not with Iraq, Afgahnistan, or even Iran. This war is against political and radical Islam. Western nations have long accepted Muslims seeking political and religious freedom. What the Swiss have declared with their vote is that while they are willing to accept Muslims in their country (it is after all their country), they are unwilling to accept an Islam that would alter traditional Swiss political and social values. The expectation is that if you move to Switzerland, you are expected to adapt to the Swiss way of life. You are not precluded from worshipping God however you wish, so long as you do not expect to alter the larger society to conform to your ideals.

This complex issue demands more discussion and debate. I am among the last people who would dream of restricting someone's right to live and worship as they please. However, that being said, no one religion has the right to impose their political views on the larger society, whether we are talking about Evangelical Christians, Radical Islam or Humanists. In a democratic republic, the majority rules. There are sufficient protections to preserve the rights of any minority without granting them Super-rights and special privileges. Once that happens, you no longer live in a democracy. The Swiss democratic tradition dates back over five hundred years. That's why the Swiss people went against the advice of their own political elite. They understand that if they do not stand against political Islam, their own traditions will be no more. For over 1000 years, this has been the way Islam has spread - by forcing others to accept their "superior" society, and once their numbers permit, by the point of the sword if anyone dares to dissent. I was talking with an Iranian friend this week who taught me this lesson. The Muslim invaders, he told me, took political control from the native Persians, then over the next several decades, systematically forced the people to adopt Islam. While he finds great beauty in many of the teachings of Islam as a way of life (there are many similarities with my own beliefs), he is much less enthusiastic about a society where the political rule is sharia law. This is, I think, the distinction the Swiss voters are trying to make.

Check out this article in the Christian Science Monitor for more perspective on the Swiss vote.
CSM Article

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