Reading Politics

Nov 29, 2009 11:07 # 46625

null rants...

"The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Switzerland is a direct democracy. Any citizen can demand a popular vote to either introduce a new law or block a law that parliament has recently passed but is not yet in effect. A countrywide popular vote is held if 50,000 (to block a law) resp. 100,000 (to introduce a new law) voters sign the motion. Thus, the majority of the citizens can always force their will upon our government on important issues.
This is the main reason why Switzerland is one of the world's most stable and peaceful democracies.

Unfortunately, it's also the reason for some crazy antics which may not be beneficial to Switzerland's reputation abroad, because the way our democracy works seems rather odd to outsiders. (In theory, one could start a referendum requiring everybody aged 30-40 to wear a cowboy hat with purple polka dots on Sunday. I don't think the law would stand a chance, but our consitution would still demand that we vote on it. Imagine the comments of foreign correspondents on that.)

The most recent example are those anti-islamic posters you see all across Switzerland. These are paid for by the Swiss People's Party, originally a moderate centrist party that has moved to the far right in recent years. It's probably best compared to the USA's Republican Party, in that both parties talk about patriotism, personal freedom and a healthy middle class while at the same time doing everything to sabotage the freedoms they so pretend to love and generally fucking the middle class up the ass.
The so-called "Minaret Initiative" is a great example of this attitude that freedom must be defended, especially against those who dare to use that freedom to express opinions that differ from those you're supposed to have.
The initiative demands that the constitution is amended so that it is forbidden to build minarets in Switzerland. (Minarets are like a church spire for a mosque.) Their slogan is, "no islamic symbols of power in Switzerland."

This is a perfect example of how populists are given tremendous amounts of political power by the stupid.

It is obvious that the initiative is moronic. Not only does it violate the constitutional rights of freedom of religion and non-discrimination, it's also an excellent way to alienate a mostly peaceful group of people whose only crime is that they're expecting not to be discriminated because of their faith.

Here are the main reasons to vote in favour of the initative:

Minarets are merely a symbol of the islamistic claim to power!
(Note how the terms "islamic" and "islamistic" are used interchangeably by supporters of the initiative)
This is an outright lie. The same argument could be used to prohibit any building with religious or other symbolic meaning.

Try building a christian church in a Muslim country! I don't see why we should be more tolerant towards them.
Even if this statement were true (which it is not) this is a classical case of "two wrongs don't make it a right." Just to 'get back at' a bunch of immigrants from some backward country with no human rights, we should do away with human rights ourselves?

If we don't make minarets illegal now, minarets will appear everywhere, and we'll also be forced to allow muezzins on them! Do you want to be woken up every day by somebody screaming 'Allah Akbar'?
Again, this is utter bullshit. Minarets, as any other building, are subject to Switzerland's stringent building law. If the Minaret Initiative is dismissed, it's left to each municipality whether to permit a particular building (including minarets). Muezzins are (and will remain) illegal due to noise regulations.

A mosque doesn't necessarily need minarets.
In other words, "if it's not absolutely required, we may as well make it illegal." Genius, and so far-sighted.

We need to nip those islamistic tendencies in the bud!
Because, as we all know, islamistic extremists around the world will say: "Oh, we can't buy any more minarets in Switzerland? Oh well, let's silently retreat and find another country to take over."
There's no way in the world that this sensible measure would alienate peaceful / moderate Muslims and play into the hands of extremists. Nor could this possibly do any damage to Switzerland's reputation all over the world.

Even though the initiative is based on lies and fears, it's still way more successful than it should be in a 21st century democracy. I attribute this to the fact that in any given country there are lots of stupid people. Stupid people are easily scared and will always opt for the party that promises to take care of the complicated issues. Stupid people want easy questions and answers, because they're neither able nor willing to wrap their feeble minds around complicated issues.
Luckily for us, reason so far has prevailed over stupidity and populism most of the time.

So, dear rest of the world, if you travel through our beautiful country and are shocked by the mass of xenophobic populistic posters everywhere, please do keep in mind that these are not representative for the country itself. We dearly value fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, and unfortunately this freedom of speech also applies to idiots and crypto-fascists. And it's always those who shout the loudest, even though they're in no way the majority they'd like you to think they are.

Or so I hope.

Even though I dearly love my country, the landscape and the people just as much as the political system, I've always been skeptical of the concept of national pride. But in the rather unlikely case that the Minaret Initiative is passed, I will for the first time in my life be ashamed to be a Swiss.

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

Dec 01, 2009 19:56 # 46629

ginsterbusch *** replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Also take a look at the Design Tagebuch post about this issue (note the image!). A direct quote of the last sentence of the first and the whole second paragraph:

Ob sie alle wussten, dass es in der Schweiz gerade einmal vier Minarette gibt?

Gut möglich, dass bei einer Kampagne, die sich in der Gestaltung der Stilmittel der Nationalsozialisten bedient, der Inhalt in den Hintergrund tritt. Das Motiv nährt Vorurteile und schürt Ängste. Minarette, die aussehen, als wären sie in den Boden gestellte Pershing-Raketen sind nicht grenzwertig, sie überschreiten die Grenze.

English translation (text in brackets added for better understanding the content):

Did they know, that there are just four minarets in Switzerland?

It might be very much possible, that the content is fading into the background within a campaign, which is using the same design elements as the national socialists. The visual motif is feeding prejudices and fears. Minarets that look like put-up Pershing missiles are not at the border (of good taste), they are border-crossing (are already crossing the border).

cu, w0lf.

beards are cool. every villain has one!

Dec 01, 2009 20:50 # 46630

null agrees...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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(note the image!)

Yup, that poster was prohibited in several places (I believe you can guess why). There also was a huge debate on whether it should be allowed or not.
Those who voted in favour of the initiative were either so far right that they fear/hate anything foreign, or so uninformed that they were easily scared into voting yes even though they didn't even know what it was all about. It's a shame really.

As for the methods used by the right-wingers, there's a pretty accurate description of them on Snopes. (Yes, I know Godwin's law. It just so happens that the methods in question were made popular by one Hermann Goering. And, incidentally, the last time Switzerland passed a law that discriminated against certain sorts of people was in 1939. Go figure.)

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

This post was edited by null on Dec 01, 2009.

Dec 01, 2009 21:41 # 46632

andromacha *** replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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So here in Italy we have a big fuss about keeping the cross in schools and hospitals and there in Switzerland you were called to vote on allowing or not the minarets... wow it seems that our respective parliaments are really working hard in the interest of the country!! It would be so nice that for once they actually discussed about the real problems that are affecting us. Honestly I wouldn't have gone to vote on such an issue... I do believe that voting is a right as well as something you should do for your nation, but be called to vote on something like that... it is an insult to all those people who work their ass off and they are in debt or just barely making it til the end of the month!

Italy no longer accepts illegal immigrants. Mr. B sink their boats!!!!!!!

Dec 02, 2009 16:26 # 46634

Bunk *** agrees...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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I heard about this in passing from my brother (who was similarly peeved), but you've summed up the whole thing - and tore it to shreds - quite nicely. Your perspective on this is clearer than mine would be, not living in the same country (or continent), so thanks for the illumination.

"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford

Dec 04, 2009 16:21 # 46644

oKtosiTe * replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Meanwhile, in my country of origin, the Netherlands* (I moved to Sweden recently), a populist right wing party leader, Geert Wilders, has proposed introducing laws to ban the Qur’an and to tax people for wearing headscarves. He would also like to see a Dutch Guantanamo. The party he's leading Party for Freedom, now appears to become the largest party in parliament after the next elections.
Other recent polls are showing 1 in 8 Dutch people are considering migrating abroad if he gets elected prime minister.

*Also incorrectly referred to as "Holland", a densely populated region of the Netherlands.

Or is it?

Dec 04, 2009 21:45 # 46648

null has an idea...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Also incorrectly referred to as "Holland", a densely populated region of the Netherlands.

The German name for the Netherlands (all of it) is "Holland". :-)

As for voters, I would love to see some kind of system that prevents the idiots from voting, because the idiots will always follow the populists, who are, by definition, an unhealthy thing to have in a modern democracy.
A law or ministry whose job it is to decide who's allowed to vote will obviously raise a lot of ethical questions and quite possibly create more problems than it solves. But what about some five-questions basic understanding test in front of the voting booth? You know what you're voting on and know the pros and cons, you get to vote; you just blindly vote yes because your party says so but have no idea what it's all about, you're sent home.
Instant, non-discriminating, self-regulating idiot filter!

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

Dec 04, 2009 22:30 # 46652

oKtosiTe * agrees...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Yes... but who compiled the questions on such a form?
Similar ethical problem, isn't it?

I totally wish such a thing could happen, eliminating the dumbest fifteen to forty percent of society from taking part in the process.
Imagine the outrage one would be able find on YouTube comment threads though!

Or is it?

Dec 05, 2009 11:56 # 46654

null agrees...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Yes... but who compiled the questions on such a form?Similar ethical problem, isn't it?

It may well be one. That's why I'd only test the voters' knowledge of the facts. E.g. "name the direct consequences of the new law you're voting on", "how much money has candidate X earned from lobbyists last year", or "describe in three sentences the most important political offices in this country and how they interact."
Of course that won't stop the populists from complaining when hordes of stupid voters suddenly fail the test and can't vote for them anymore. But hey, tell me anything that will shut them up... and besides, as long as they don't have any political power, they're welcome to whine all day for all I care. Few things are as satisfying and entertaining as a populist in impotent rage.

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

Dec 04, 2009 18:03 # 46646

Bunk *** replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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Here's my prediction for the future:

Discrimination against muslims in Europe becomes progressively worse in the future, fueled by world events and continuing old prejudices. It increases as Europe enters economic crises, leading raging populists to demonize muslims, riling people up and giving them a scapegoat onto which to pour their discontent. Conflict escalates into a massive global explosion of violence and destruction, in which the persecution of muslims evolves into an outright slaughter.

In the aftermath, the powers at be in Europe realize that the muslims weren't the true cause of their ills, and in persecuting them they had been transformed into monsters. The European muslims, meanwhile, long to get the hell out of there and create some place where they can live in peace and openly practice their faith. A movement to reclaim one of their ancient holy lands gains momentum. The European leaders, seeing a chance to pay penance for their mistakes (and a chance to rid themselves of the muslims), agree to support this movement 100%, in the form of diplomatic recognition, alliances, and massive military aid. This proves necessary - it seems that the Jews who live there somehow got the idea that they alone were entitled to the land.

They'll come around.


"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford

Dec 04, 2009 21:15 # 46647

null replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

Bunk, you're a cynical ass with no respect or consideration for political correctness whatsoever. You ridicule people simply because of their political opinion. Your posts ooze sarcasm and sometimes are downright insulting to very large groups of people.
Right now I can't think of anything that I don't like about you though.

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

Dec 04, 2009 22:21 # 46649

Bunk *** smiles...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

Lol, thanks null, same to you.

"History is more or less bunk." - Henry Ford

This post was edited by Bunk on Dec 04, 2009.

Dec 10, 2009 13:00 # 46667

harold_maude *** replies...

Re: "The building of minarets is prohibited."

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The US is a republic, although we have two major parties, republicans and democrats, there are alot of other parties who would love to be in power.

It's a popular notion that this country is a democracy, but in truth it's a republic which means the people have given the power to do or not do to the majority of who ever is in the house of represenatives and the senate.

It would be nice to be in a country where all laws that are proposed have to get the approval or disaproval of the people before what ever is up for becomming a law gets passed into law.

It's never right to scape goat a people because of their belief systems. It happens and has happened through out history in one place or another.
It also seems to be a repeating thing that for every belief system extreemists rise up and make the rest of the folks look really bad.

Then there are the people who are ruled by fear and easily swayed by people that I tend to think of as terrorists in business suits. Instead of doing research, getting to know the people who are being labled as bad or horrible because of a faction group, it's easier to just listen and accept what they are being told.
That's how mobs get formed and then you get things like linchings.

Unfortunately as long as people refuse to stop listening to crazy talk based on fear what is going on will continue.

I'm sorry that this mess has given some people a bad view of your beautiful country. Thoes who know the history will hopefully be able to reconize this anti islamic push for what it is and be able to seperate it from the rest of the people who live there.

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