One Last Minaret: Swiss Voters Solve Problems of Immigration


So the Swiss have voted to ban the construction of new minarets, while assuring their Muslim brothers and sisters that this rebuke shouldn't be confused with a ban on the construction of mosques. Doubtless reassuring to a religious minority. And, they hasten to add, it most certainly isn't directed at Islam in particular but at Islam's rather un-Swiss architectural tastes.

It is a pointless and stupid provision (and one which could be overturned, according to Switzerland's justice minister), that avoids and obscures the hot button issues of immigration and integration—and, if anything, hinders the assimilation of the Muslim minority.

This type of response shouldn't come as a shock, as it's of a piece with the European tactic of ignoring problems of integration and religious extremism followed by a spasm of ill-considered populism. In France, it was the headscarf ban. In the the United Kingdom, the occasional attacks against the construction of so-called mega mosques and endless debates about banning radical groups like Hizb-ut-Tarir. In Sweden, a proposal by the integration minister (herself an immigrant) to check all girls for evidence of female genital mutilation. All skirt the issues of why fundamentalist ideas take root, why many Muslim immigrants have cloistered themselves in ghettos (often, this is the fault of government), why the suburbs of Gothenburg, according to this recent report from Norwegian state television, look like Grozny and are full of graffiti informing kids that "those who kill the police will go to paradise."

Tyler Cowen, Daniel Hannan, the Wall Street Journal, and Dave Kopel raise a series of sensible objections to the measure. France's foreign minister said he was "a bit scandalized" by the vote, while the Vatican condemned the ban as a "blow to freedom of religion." Emboldened by the Swiss vote, the Dutch Freedom Party and the Danish People's Party are now considering similar measures, though both are too small to force a referendum on their own. The Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports that the Arab media reaction has, thus far, been rather reserved.

Our favorite MEP, the libertarian Tory Dan Hannan, gets it exactly right by observing that a minaret ban "suggests that Western democracies have a problem, not with jihadi fruitcakes, but with Muslims per se–which is, of course, precisely the argument of the jihadi fruitcakes."

Way back in 2007, I looked at the rise of Swiss People's Party. And way back in August, I interviewed Hannan for and the British media freaked out.

NEXT: Woodrow Wilson's Legacy

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  1. I agree on the sillyness of this, but from a different angle.

    If you don’t like what I am building on my property (that stays on my property), purchase my property and build what you wanted me to build on it.

  2. Maybe this is another European idea that the trolls would like to see us adopt.

    1. Yeah, where’s Chad, for instance, to tell us how enlightened the Europeans are?

    2. But don’t you see? If only the US had banned minarets, that Hassan fellow wouldn’t have got radicalised! Hell, 9/11 may not have happened!

      1. This is funny guys?

        That Hassan fellow was funny?

        A straw man argument, a cutesy antecdote…. so predictable.

        1. Who the fuck are you???

      2. If Hasan’s family had not been allowed to immigrate, he wouldn’t have done any damage in America.

  3. Years ago on the PBS television program This Old House, a project to restore a house in “historic” Concord Mass was sidetracked when an official committee of public busybodies claimed that the color of paint chosen for the exterior of the house was insufficiently authentic. Using high tech resources not available to the common home renovator, the TOH team determined the actual composition and color of the original 200 year old paint. The busybodies rejected this as being esthetically unpleasing. My question to Libertarians is this: are the actions of the Concord busybodies a greater affront to liberty, because of they are trying to prevent the free expression of an individuals color sense, or are the actions of the Swiss the greater affront because (of course) religion is more important the the color of your house?

    1. Who cares which is worse? The important thing is that both kinds of laws are unacceptable infringements on individual choice.

      1. That’s too earnest. Surely the bad stuff is not all equally bad?

        My question remains, is an infringement of a triviality (which is the far more likely occurrence, IMO) worse, equal to, or better than, an more onerous infringement (which may be a less frequent occurrence)?

        Let me set the context.

        A. You are prevented from building minarets because the civil authority doesn’t like Muslims; instead you continue the tradition of minarets through artistic representations on your (now) shortened mosques and you are otherwise not inconvenienced.

        B. You continue to build minarets but the civil authority begins to ticket people in your neighborhood for illegal parking (not religiously targeted at all, although most of the people in your neighborhood are Muslim, but the authorities don’t like the cluttered look of the street).

        Which is worse?

        1. Who cares which is worse? The important thing is that both kinds of laws are unacceptable infringements on individual choice.

          1. Those words look familiar, Briareus, but they ring true.

            Mr. Man, why are you obsessed with ranking the two types of laws?

    2. The Swiss decision at least had the weight of the majority backing it. The petty dictators that populate your local P&Z have no such majority backing.

      I fucking hate P&Z. They are the antithesis of liberty. And as authoritarians of this ilk typically do, they wrap themselves in the cloak of freedom by declaring that they’re “preserving the rights” of the community.

      Hate them. Passionately. This Swiss thing is trivial compared to those busybodies.

  4. But they have free healthcare!

    Or are we only supposed to say that when it’s a Commie country cracking down on some liberty?

    1. We bring up free healthcare and literacy when it’s the Commies.

  5. Drop your bombs between the minarets
    Down the casbah way

  6. Mmmm… jihadi fruitcake. I love this time of year.

  7. Minarets ok, although I could see a zoning provision on some height limitation (if it applied to all structures in general in the same area). Of course zoning is problematic in the first place, but I don’t see why they should get a special PC exemption, if zoning is already the local practice.

    I’d have a bigger problem with the muezzins rocking the Casbah, blasting their prayer call over too much of the surrounding area. That’s a hell of a lot more intrusive than some modest church bells that just count off the time.

    1. yeah, what he said.

    2. Minarets: OK. Religious observance: Problematic. Score 1 for infringing the triviality is worse.

    3. Uh, prayer calls are already illegal there. And lots of church bells are more than just modest and counting off time. Bells to ring in Mass at 8 AM suck when you’re hung over.

  8. It’s time, it’s time, it’s time to hate the Swiss.

    1. But, but…their cheese…

    2. But, but…their cheese…

  9. I spent the month of May living in Turkey and it took about two weeks to get used to the call to pray blaring from the minarets at sunrise.

    I don’t know if they sound the call to prayer from loudspeakers in countries where they are the minority, but I believe that’s the only purpose of the minarets.

    I’d object to being woken up at 5:00 a.m. every morning more than the architecture.

    1. So a minaret is just like a steeple on a Christian church?

      1. Essentially, except the bell tower is usually attached to the church. Traditionally, the minarets are placed throughout the entire neighborhood to project the call to prayer, not just around the mosque. You can have dozens and dozens of minarets with only one mosque within walking distance.

        Also, libertarians are supposed to uphold an individual’s rights up to the point that they infringe on another’s. I would argue that I have a right (negative) to not have to listen to a call to prayer blaring over a loudspeaker. Chimes and bells tolling the hour tend to be much less intrusive.

        If there’s some guy AT the mosque doing the call to prayer as everyone goes to pray, that’d be fine. Projecting the call over entire neighborhoods would not be.

        1. I would argue that I have a right (negative) to not have to listen to a call to prayer blaring over a loudspeaker smell second hand smoke as I stand at the bus stop.


          1. I would argue that I have a right (negative) to not have to listen to a call to prayer blaring over a loudspeaker smell second hand smoke as I stand at the bus stop smell peoples cologne/perfume when i ride an elevator.


            (Or we could all grow some balls and just put up with small annoyances that really have no bearing on our lives.)

            1. Striked Out on my strikeout tag


            2. I was kidding. The folks here worship tobacco.

            3. Being woken up by a loudspeaker attached to a minaret half a block down the road at sunrise isn’t what I would call a small annoyance, and what would have a great bearing on life considering I’m not that much of a morning person.

        2. I think this really depends on who all is in the minority. If you’re living in a muslim neighborhood and the minaret call annoys you, but makes everybody else happy, I think you should deal with it, or move to a different neighborhood, or get some earplugs. If minarets are blasting prayer calls at 5:00 AM in an area where very few people like it and tons of folks are inconvenienced, then it makes sense to tell them to shut up. It’s about respecting the community that you’re in.

          1. This is like the “the majority of people want it, so I guess it’s the right thing to do” argument.

            From an individual rights perspective, your lifestyle should have absolutely no effect on me.

    2. Having to listen to the adhan, especially early in the morning, and especially when the damn thing is sounded over loudspeakers by tone-deaf muezzins is quite frankly torture.

      Of course, the fact remains that none of Switzerland’s four extant minarets have a call to prayer made from them, and the proposal for the new minaret that triggered this referendum specified that the adhan would not be made from it. This referendum had nothing to do with noise pollution from calls to prayer.

      1. You’re right that this isn’t about architecture. This is the Swiss people saying to Muslim immigrants that if they don’t want to assimilate to Swiss culture than they can STFU and GTFO.

        1. Which is all very fine, but what do minarets have to do with that? Unless, of course, what the Swiss mean by “assimilation” is “not be Muslim”. Of course, in that case, I submit that a referendum removing constitutional protections for freedom of religion would have been the way to go.

    3. Minarets: OK. Religious observance: objectionable. Score another 1 for infringing the triviality is worse.

      1. They can religiously observe in quiet.

        My church doesnt wake people up, they have a website for getting information about times of worship.

        1. Yes, but once again, no one was proposing to make calls to prayer from any of these minarets.

          1. I was responding to The Man’s comment, which was about noise. But he is clearly a troll so nevermind.

            1. Ah, nevermind then. Also, troll-props to The Man for screwing up the thread through his strategically placed and incomprehensible comments.

          2. That’s what I was wondering…the article talks exclusively about the architecture, but doesn’t mention anything about the calls to prayer.

            1. Yeah, but other articles specifically mention that Swiss mosques do not broadcast calls to prayer outside their premises:


        2. Minarets: OK. Religious observance: wakes me up. Score another 1 for infringing the triviality is worse. If you’re counting this is a hat trick (in less than an hour).

          1. You keep saying that, but the sentence needs more punctuation, man! I have no idea what that even means.

            1. OK. I’ve made my point to Brian Sorgatz. Here it is:

              Several people believe that religious liberty is OK if it doesn’t cause a public nuisance (like the call to prayer does). Muslims, however, might think this a greater affront than the prohibition on minarets. On the other hand, few would object to a bylaw prohibiting the playing of a trumpet on the sidewalk outside your house at 5AM (even trumpet fans).

              So, does religious freedom trump my right to live undisturbed? If it does then the town of Concord might well tell me what color to paint my house, without running afoul of hardcore libertarian beliefs. If it doesn’t whose rights must be observed? Can I ban your noisy religious celebrations because I’m trying to sleep? And if it’s an anarchic free-for-all where there is no agreed ranking of rights, then I can see bleary-eyed non-believers pulling guns after a few nights of no sleep.

              How would libertarians solve the practical problem of people living on the same street, playing trumpets and worshiping god in a city. (If we all lived in the wilderness like hippies, there would be no problem.)

              1. Noise pollution is a clear commons issue that most minarchists don’t have a problem regulating.

                Noise pollution regs do not impair religious freedom per se because they are not specifically tailored to regulate religion.

                1. I am a minarchist and I think noise laws generally suck and are unnecessary.

              2. Look, it is not (repeat after me: NOT) a central tenet of Islam that the call to prayer needs to be made extremely loudly, or that it be heard all over the area served by the mosques. Most mosques in Western countries have their muezzins make discreet calls to prayer which are almost never made from the minaret of the mosque, if any. No one has to choose between obeying noise ordinances and being an observant Muslim.

                1. I love the call to prayer. I remember when we shocked and awed Iraq the first night of the war. we blew up a shitload of stuff, and as the bombing ceased, the smoke cleared and the dawn began, the call to prayer was blasted over the minaret’s speakers.

                  That was so cool!

              3. Does your religious observance necessitate the annoyance of others?

                If it’s possible to observe your religion without infringing on other people’s personal space, shouldn’t you be obliged to do so?

                On the other hand, if you religion explicitly commands you to interrupt the unbelievers sleep, then I guess I would put limits on freedom of religion.

                Course, as an atheist, I’m a tad biased.

          2. Your rights end where I begin. You have no right to a religious observance that affects me in any way (while Im on my property).

            1. The light rays that reflect off your bloated, pimply, grotesque, whale-like carcass cross my property line and impinge on my eyeballs. I am disturbed beyond description by the sight but cannot close my eye, lest I fall in the pool and drown. You must cease this intrusion.

              1. Build a taller fence.

                1. Robc’s gargantuan proportions tower over any fence. The man casts a shadow into the next county. He is no mere hillock of a man but a mountain. If he were a transmission tower he’d have lights. No, I have decided to place large quantities of gamma ray emitting substances along the property line and wait for him to expire. Surely electromagnetic turnabout is fair play.

              2. If I generated the light rays you might have an argument.

                1. damn you again, lack of incif.

                2. So really the Sun is to blame for the whole thing. Emitting or reflecting, forget poisoning your property line with radioisotopes (which emit in all directions, so i hope your house has many layers of lead paint.)

                  Put that same effort towards a cloaking field instead. Much better electromagnetic solution. And it’ll be fun when planes crash into him and have no idea what they hit.

  10. Neutral ninnies. Boring bankers.

  11. It is good to see that somebody in Europe is willing to stand up to muslims.

    How many Christian churches have been defiled or destroyed in muslim countries? In Saudi Arabia they are not allowed at all.

    Islam is a violent and bigoted religion. Muslims are incapable of getting along with their neighbours wherever they may be and whoever they may be.

    The US had no problem with de-nazification of Germany after WW2. The European countries need to come to an understanding with their muslim populations that they will integrate into the greater community and respect the local laws and customs. Any who won’t agree to these conditions need to return to muslim countries.

    1. Linking your Canadian government email to comments such as this one might not be wise.

      It’s a nice country up there and all, but they will hunt you down for expressing any sentiment suggesting that Muslims are in any way different from Presbyterians in outlook.

      1. He works for California, not Canada.

        I know, I know, it’s the same thing.

      2. I don’t know that it’s sooo nice and all: in 1970 their prime minister declared martial law when a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped and murdered; during WWII they interned their japanese citizens and seized their property, in fact they have a fast food chain in western canada that has called (since WWII) their hamburgers Nips; in the 30’s there was a klu klux klan riot in Toronto and on and on…sure they’re nice enough. They the same as left wing Americans.

        1. OMG, Canadians did bad things in the past! Screw those guys!

    2. bigoted

      More tasty irony, please. Do you have any pithy bon mots on, say, hijab you’d like to share with the group?

    3. So Saudi Arabia is the country we’re using as a baseline for liberties? Do you brag about beating paraplegics in footraces too?

      1. No, perhaps as a baseline for how Muslims treat people of other beliefs when Muslims hold power. If a Muslim has a problem with what the Swiss have done, but have no problem with the lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, it would be a good test for Muslim hypocrisy.

    4. You’re right. As long as Muslim governments in other countries treat Christians like shit, Christians should trample all over the folks who try to leave those countries for a better life, but still believe in the same god.

  12. Islam isn’t a religion, it’s a political system.

    1. It’s a floor wax. It’s a dessert topping!

      1. Way to ignore an important distinction.

        1. That’s no more or less true of Islam than it is of Judaism and Catholicism.

          1. Actually it -is- more true.

            1. It’s more true right now.

  13. I guess sooner or later their might be a backlash against a religion that says one thing and does another, or has visible proportion of its followers generally disliking anyone that is not with them.

    It’s not like this hasn’t happened before with Christianity and the Catholic church. People will put up with your shit for so long and then the pendulum starts to swing away from the freedoms enjoyed, and dare I say abused.

    Still a stupid piece of legislation, but in the context of history not surprising.

  14. Democracy’s a bitch, isn’t it? How dare those uppity Swiss actually get the will of the people enforced? Don’t they know that all of the West must embrace multiculturalism or die?

    1. And reduce their CO2 emissions too! Just look at the data!

      1. Majority rule rules, minority rights drools!

    2. James Madison weeps.

      1. er technically thats not democracy
        its mob rule

        you might be able to win a popular vote to say we can kill some random innocent person that would be mob rule,

        but the caveat with democracy are that fundamental rights are protected ie by a constitution

        The Swiss vote is mob rule as its fundamentally infringing private property rights

        yet more evidence for the Dan Hannan case that the European “right” essentially are left wing

        they just manipulate the economy for cultural conservatism as opposed to the left who do it notions of economic equality or green bullshit

        1. private property rights? HOW IF SOMEONE BUILD A HUGE WASTE DUMPING PLACE NEXT YOUR DOOR, ITS SMELL private property rights?

  15. The Swiss paper Neue Z?rcher Zeitung reports that the Arab media reaction has, thus far, been rather reserved.

    As well it should be. What do think the chances are that you’d be able to build a Catholic church in Saudi Arabia with bells pealing 5 times a day?

    1. Coulda sworn there were more than 5 hours in a day….

  16. Good for the Swiss. I don’t think the growing influence of Islam on Europe has been a good one overall. Culture matters, and this is one small step in Europe keeping European culture European.

    1. European Culture? Not sure what’s worth keeping really, the Inbred Monarchies and Feudalism?

      1. They have some great restaurants.

        1. Yeah, especially the ones serving Indian and Turkish food.

          1. I still don’t get why the French are so famous for their cuisine.

    2. Someone kidnapped MNG and replaced him with a slave zombie.

  17. What would I do?

  18. I propose a compromise: allow minaret construction on the condition that they all unmistakably resemble enormous erect throbbing penises. Require all Christian churches to sport massive wood as well. There is actually lots of room for architectural creativity: think color, cut/uncut, choad, etc.

    1. When SugarFree’s Feministing buddies find out about this comment, you’re going to be SO screwed!

      1. Does anyone make a minaret-shaped dildo?

    2. Why limit it to minarets. The domes should be shaped just like breasts, with nipples on the top.

  19. We don’t get
    Buddhists playing bagpipes in our bathroom! Or Hindus harmonizing in the hall! The Shintoists don’t come here shattering
    sheet glass in the shithouse, and shouting slogans-

  20. You could always use the Number-Fourteen-to-St.-Joseph’s-on-the-hill Ballistic Missile. It’s in the attic.

    What ballistic missile would that be

    Oh, I made it for you, it’s your birthday present!

  21. Looking forward to the unintended consequences: the world’s first call-to-prayer cuckoo clock tower.

    1. Wins the thread. Which you can use to tell if it’s daylight for Ramadan purposes.

  22. Wait, the Kopel comment is “sensible”? The one that includes the term “Islamonazis”?

  23. I don’t think this vote has anything to do with religion. People have no objection to the religious part of Islam; it’s all that baggage that comes along with it: a complete system, incompatible with western culture and western law, and ready to replace the western system.

    1. Shhhh!!!! You’ll get everybody confused.

    2. And they’ll call you a racist too. Because that’s what they do when you cut to the bone of the matter.

  24. Who cares about the frigg’n minarets? The whining is more disturbing than anything else!

  25. It’s better than living next door to the McDonald’s “Golden Arches”! Now that is an argument I could get behind!

  26. Irony is the Vatican condemning the abridgment of freedom of religion.

  27. Everyone MUST integrate Moslems, even if they don’t want to integrate. It’s VERY important. For some reason.

  28. A big hearty well done to the Swiss electorate. Time to resist further Muslim immigration to all Western Countries. Question, why do Leftitarians tend to dominate the comment sections on Reason. IMO, proof that Ron Paul’s problem wasn’t the candidate it was the Paul supporters that doomed the effort.

    1. Uh, no.

      It’s true there are lots of Leftitarians here (good phrase btw!). But that’s really not what Ron Paul’s problem was. His down fall was his very own doing, by (as I’ve said so many times) shooting himself in the feet. Think “Barney Fife trying to get his gun out of that damned holster.” For RP it went like this:

      1) Walk into RNC and announce that the Iraq war is wrong, wrong-wrong-wrong!

      It is true that he was right. It is also true that that was sure-fired political suicide. He really needed to tone that message down if he was going to make a run for the Republican ticket.

      2) The minute he actually got a little attention on the national stage he started doing the goo-goo-ga-ga thing about the gold standard. Gold standard now or bust!

      This too was sure-fired political suicide. You know that’s going to come across as something from the lunatic fringe.

      He could just as well gotten on stage and talked about the serious need for financial responsibility and security. It would very probably have gotten him a permanent spot on the stage, at least for a good period of time during the campaign season.

      It was a (pardon the pun) golden opportunity that he promptly squandered.

      Ron Paul’s biggest problem was Ron Paul.

  29. i live in the country where the muslim claim to be dominated, i remember i used to play in the public playground near my home then one day they build a mosque there, i was so sad and think why they dont buy a piece of land of their own to build something that not public. they not build minaret cause it smal mosque but they do put 4 BIG LOUDSPEAKER to call for pray and thats means everyday someone SCREAM from that place 5 time a day and sometime a whole day scream (AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA) whith ugly tone especialy when (holy?) day. WHEN THEY MINORITY THEY CLAIM TO BE TREATED UNFAIR AND START VIOLENCE, WHEN THEY MAYORITY THEY TREAT MINORITY UNFAIR AND WHEN SOMEONE CRY FOR JUSTICE AND EQUALITY THEY ANGRILY BURN, KILL, AND SAID “THEY INSULD OUR RELIGION, OUR GOD AND OUR PROPHED SO THEY SPILL BLOOD IS JUSTIFIED”(JIHAD). HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO THINK THEY ALWAYS RIGHT ALWAYS….AND NO REASON CAN MAKE THEIR COMMON SENSE BACK (FANATISM)they even ban building new church unles you got 100 signature from the locals, so if you got 1000 christian spreading in entire town you can’t build. if you want to build you have to move at least 100 people to one housing block and got the signature.and still you have to pray a lot for that.but GOD STILL LOVE US.

  30. Islam at its roots is a restrictive, conformist, intolerant religion/ideology that controls every part of a person’s life and politics. If a Muslim interprets the Quran in the “orthodox” manner with the newer writings overriding the older contradictory writings and the words and deeds of Mohamed in the Hadiths interpreting the Quran, there is not a lot of room for differences of opinion. It’s pretty clear, women and non Muslims are second class citizens and the freedoms western folks take for granted with alcohol, sexuality, dating, religion, and speech are gone. It’s amusing to watch the “enlightened” “progressive” crowd defend a religion diametrically opposed to the very values they claim to cherish. The hikers arrested in Iran were from this same PC crowd. Their na?ve world view came to a sudden end with the slamming of the Islamic prison doors. Duh! The people ranting against the Swiss on this issue are either blind, afraid, na?ve or cynical self serving politicians.

  31. I’m with you man. Muslims are persecuting and killing non-Muslims, especially Christians, all over the world! We in the west are so naive. We mostly believe “all religions are good and promote morality” and “if you see Muslims killing innocent people all over the globe it must be an aberration of the TRUE Islam”. But there some of us who can see clearly and some even pray for people like you”true”. Sorry guys. I am an open minded man of reason, unbiased clear thinking AND a Christian.

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