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A Little Mosque in Switzerland

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    A mosque with a minaret in Switzerland A Little Mosque in Switzerland Ali Bulac - a.bulac @ todayszaman.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2007
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      A mosque with a minaret in Switzerland

      A Little Mosque in Switzerland
      Ali Bulac - a.bulac @ todayszaman.com

      A few weeks ago the Cihan news agency reported a story about a debate
      in Switzerland over the construction of a minaret in Langenthal.
      According to the story Muslims using an old paint factory for worship
      asked permission from the local administration to build a five-meter
      minaret on the roof of the factory. After the local administration
      approved, people began to speak out. Claiming that minarets are not
      necessary for worship, the Swiss People's Party, a right-wing group
      holding a majority in the country's parliament, launched a campaign to
      ban minarets. They tried to collect signatures for a general
      referendum on the ban, but the Berne administration cancelled the
      campaign indefinitely.

      Oskar Freysinger from the Swiss People's Party said, "If you want to
      live here, you have to accept our laws. Otherwise go back to your
      country." Some Cabinet ministers opposed this campaign, taking into
      consideration the possibility that it could anger Muslims. According
      to one Swiss newspaper, 43 percent of the population there is "against
      minarets" (Today's Zaman, May 29, 2007).

      Although the terms "multi-cultural" and "coexistence" are slowly
      losing popularity nowadays, this is an interesting article because it
      shows that Europe, like most other places, has problems when it comes
      to living with multiple ethnic and religious groups. In Europe there
      is a growing Muslim population with 20 million Muslims in Vienna and
      countries to the west.

      Those who oppose the construction of the minaret say "the minaret is
      an Islamic symbol." It is correct that the minaret is one of the
      symbols of Islam. If you look at a city from afar and see a minaret
      and the silhouette of a mosque, you know there are Muslims present in
      that city. However the history of Islam has no record of an "Islamic
      city model" where only Muslims live and which is decorated solely with
      Islamic symbols. In any predominantly Muslim city, notable exceptions
      being Mecca and Medina, one can also find many non-Muslim symbols.
      Throughout Islamic history and during the Ottoman era, all houses of
      worship (i.e., mosques, churches, and synagogues) were located in the
      city center. In other words, it wasn't as though mosques were built in
      the city center and the churches and synagogues were built in the
      outskirts of the city. That is how a real multicultural and
      multi-social society should be. In this type of plural society, there
      are many options for religious and ethnic groups to represent
      themselves. Every religion and ethnicity can demonstrate its values
      through architecture, music, language, accents, food, clothing and

      There are examples of this in Istanbul, Damascus, Cairo, Baghdad,
      Tehran and all other Islamic centers. Sultan Abdülhamit built three
      houses of worship in the common lodging area -- one for Muslims, one
      for Christians and one for Jews. Today these buildings still stand
      side-by-side. Additionally there are mosques, churches and synagogues
      next to each other in Istanbul's historical peninsula and the areas of
      Eminönü, Fatih, Beyoğlu, Üsküdar and Kadıköy. No one has ever said
      "you are Christian or Jewish and if you want to live here, you have to
      accept our laws (in other words you have to remove your symbols and
      temples)." On the contrary Islamic laws have provided representation
      rights for different religions. Hence the cause of intolerance towards
      various religions is not Islam and its sociopolitical experience, but
      rather the 20th century's modern political and cultural viewpoints.

      Ali Bulac is a columnist for Zaman, an English daily newspaper from Turkey



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