November 2009


by Tariq Ramadan, for the Guardian:

It wasn’t meant to go this way. For months we had been told that the efforts to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland were doomed. The last surveys suggested around 34% of the Swiss population would vote for this shocking initiative. Last Friday, in a meeting organised in Lausanne, more than 800 students, professors and citizens were in no doubt that the referendum would see the motion rejected, and instead were focused on how to turn this silly initiative into a more positive future.

Today that confidence was shattered, as 57% of the Swiss population did as the Union Démocratique du Centre (UDC) had urged them to – a worrying sign that this populist party may be closest to the people’s fears and expectations. For the first time since 1893 an initiative that singles out one community, with a clear discriminatory essence, has been approved in Switzerland. One can hope that the ban will be rejected at the European level, but that makes the result no less alarming. What is happening in Switzerland, the land of my birth?

There are only four minarets in Switzerland, so why is it that it is there that this initiative has been launched? My country, like many in Europe, is facing a national reaction to the new visibility of European Muslims. The minarets are but a pretext – the UDC wanted first to launch a campaign against the traditional Islamic methods of slaughtering animals but were afraid of testing the sensitivity of Swiss Jews, and instead turned their sights on the minaret as a suitable symbol.

(more…)

 

EID MUBARAK to all the Muslims worldwide!

by Charles Brenner for Times Online:

After keeping invaders at bay for two centuries the Swiss are about to vote on what many see as the enemy within: their growing minority of Muslims.

On Sunday, the calm little nation at the heart of Europe will decide whether to approve a constitutional ban on building minarets, the spires that are often attached to mosques.

The issue arose when Mutalip Karaademi, a Muslim leader in the town of Langenthal, north of Berne, suggested a modest tower for the local mosque. The mayor supported what would have been only the fifth minaret in Switzerland — but it was blocked by opponents who want to halt what they see as inroads by political Islam in the world’s oldest democracy.

“They think we are animals, when we are normal people just like they are, not a threat to anyone,” said Mr Karaademi, who arrived 27 years ago from Albania. “They call us new names every day . . . terrorists and Islamists,” he told The Times.

(more…)

By Michelle Boorstein, for the Washington Post:

U.S. Muslim service members say they stand out in both their worlds.

Among fellow troops, that can mean facing ethnic taunts, awkward questions about spiritual practices and a structure that is not set up to accommodate their worship. Among Muslims, the questions can be more profound: How can a Muslim participate in killing other Muslims in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan?

Just 3,557 members of the 1.4 million-member U.S. armed forces describe themselves as Muslim, and followers of Islam said the military is just starting to accommodate them by recruiting Muslim chaplains, creating Muslim prayer spaces and educating other troops about Islam.

Active and retired Muslim service members recalled difficulties concerning their religion but said they cannot relate to the extreme isolation and harassment described by Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the suspect in last week’s Fort Hood slayings. They also said they hope the killings do not roll back the progress they have seen.

Joshua Salaam, 36, said superiors told him when he joined the Air Force that he could not take time for regular prayer. He remembered being warned at a briefing for a posting in Qatar not to go to mosques because of potential violence. Once he arrived, other service members told him that Muslims there wore baggy clothes because Islam calls for them to avoid public bathrooms.

“They are the enemy,” is how Muslims were sometimes characterized, he said.

(more…)