From the Telegraph:

While the SVP’s anti-immigrant campaigns, including calls to ban minarets and expel foreign criminals, have drawn sharp criticism on the international arena including from the United Nations, the party has managed to increase its vote share in successive Swiss elections.

In 2003, the party obtained 26.6 per cent of votes case. At the last elections that improved to 28.9 per cent.

Those 1997 results were the highest for any Swiss party since the introduction of the proportional representation system in 1919, an SVP spokesman said.

Crossing the 30 per cent mark “would therefore be a new record,” he added.

The latest opinion polls showed 29.3 per cent of voters planning to back the SVP, far more than the next most popular party the Socialists, with just 19.9 per cent…


From the Economist:

EDWARD LANE, an English orientalist, published a classic account of Egyptian society in the 1830s. Impressed with much else, he had this to say about religion in Egypt: “It is considered the highest honour among the Muslims to be religious; but the desire to appear so leads many into hypocrisy and pharisaical ostentation.”

The same observation might be made today. A generation ago it was rare to hear the Koran recited, except on formal occasions such as funerals or during the fasting month of Ramadan. Nowadays the word of God is a constant companion, wafting from taxi cabs and buses, barber’s shops and fast-food outlets, dental clinics and supermarkets. The call to prayer not only sounds five times daily from minarets but all the time from everywhere: millions of Egyptians have downloaded it as a ringtone for their mobile phones. Step into many shops at noon and you will be told to return after prayers. Call in to the main control room of Egyptian State Railways and you may find the chief operator similarly disengaged, as one panicked signalman did last year when a train stalled on the tracks. He was unable to prevent the next train from crashing into the first, killing 18 people and prompting the resignation of Egypt’s transport minister.



Charlemagne, for the Economist:

FOR all its grand central squares and lively cultural scene, the Belgian port of Antwerp is not always a happy town. Flemish old-timers share its gritty streets with Arabs, Africans, Asians and, in the diamond district, Hasidic Jews. Race relations are not easy: in the latest local elections, a third of the vote went to Vlaams Belang, an anti-immigrant, far-right Flemish nationalist party. The handsome stone bulk of the Royal Atheneum, a once-elite state school with a 200-year history, has produced legendary free-thinkers and radicals in its day. Now, however, it is enjoying unhappy fame: as the centre of an experiment in multiculturalism wrecked by intolerance. The story defies neat conclusions.