Switzerland is going to vote on a national referendum, banning the construction of minarets at Swiss mosques. There are only four minarets in the country, but the referendum argues that minarets are a sign of Islamic conquest, not religious faith.
Henri-Maxime Khedoud, a Geneva resident and spokesman for the Swiss Association of Secular Muslims, said Switzerland’s Muslims were most concerned about everyday racism, not a lack of minarets. “The problem for us is integration and finding work for our children.” The laid-back attitude does seem to make sense. A poll in a Swiss newspaper also found that 51% of people surveyed stated that they’d vote against the measure.
The Swiss Federal Commission Against Racism has complained about the posters being used to advocate for the referendum. You can see the image to the left – it shows minarets as missiles, and features a veiled Muslim woman who looks vaguely sinister. The Zurich city council has allowed the posters, stating that they represent free political speech.
The referendum looks to me like a gesture by the far-right, not a real political issue. Muslims don’t care about it, and it’s very unlikely to pass. But it speaks to a certain element of Switzerland’s politics – an element that is likely to get louder as demographics continue to shift.