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Jul 10

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, July 10, 2008 7:08 PM 

Behold the poisonous and misleading headline in this London Timesonline article about democracy in action in Switzerland, where a petition calling for a ban on minarets launched by the anti-Islamization Swiss People's Party (SVP) has garnered roughly 115,000 signatures, thus triggering a national referendum.

"Racism row in Switzerland over minaret ban referendum"

Let me tell you something: This "row" has nothing to do with "racism"--an  ideology society understands as a hard-eyed bigotry of an unfounded and particularly nasty nature based on superfluous variations in the human race. Perceived in this way, the minaret ban referendum referred to in the headline is a demonstration of a pointless prejudice against another race for no reason--in this instance, for no reason other than the fact that the-race-of-the-minaret is different from the the-race-of-the-cathedral. It is only in this duplicitous way that political sympathy may be sustained for  Islam, which, of course, is not a race at all, but rather a totalitarian political system of laws that bring repression, inequality and enforced conformity wherever it rules.

And in this era, it is trying to rule more and more turf,  from the jungles of Thailand to the Swiss alps. And speaking of the Swiss alps, I was on one recently, or, at least, 1000 meters up one, not far from Lausanne. I was there to meet Oskar Freysinger, a member of the media-dreaded Swiss People's Party (SVP), the party whose determination to gain control both of skyrocketing immigration into Switzerland--an incredible 20 percent of Swiss residents are foreign nationals--and Islamization has made it the largest party in this small nation, garnering 29 percent of the vote in last October's elections. It has also made the party the whipping boy of the establishment and the media, who always label it "extreme" and "far-right"--and those are the nice terms.

Oskar Freysinger welcomed me into his home, where he prepared for family and friends a traditional dinner of raclette and wine, which, as I understood it, came from his wife's father's vineyards. The hills are alive with vineyards, incidentally, at least as high up as I got.

I will be reporting on Oskar's free-thinking opinions presently. Meanwhile, I want to present the Other Side: the MSM version of what is going on in Switzerland--that "row over racism" the London paper alluded to. It is a "row over racism" only in our childish world of pretend: a still free but teetering world that shuts its eyes and believes that Islam and its laws poses no political threat to freedom.

From the London Timesonline:

Another racism row flared up in Switzerland after the country’s far-right party managed to trigger a referendum on banning minarets in the country.

The demand for a popular vote was driven by the nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which used an image of a white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag to illustrate its anti-immigration policies in last year’s election campaign. [DW: While the Times clearly wishes to convey the impression that the poster rather literally represented a policy of  kicking black people out of  a white country for racist--i.e., groundless and nasty--reasons, the policy the poster illustrates relates to the SVP's stance on crime: specifically,  deporting foreign-born criminals--black sheep--from Switzerland--the flock.] The party managed to get more than 100,000 signatures on a petition calling for the ban, thus forcing the vote.

There are just two minarets at mosques in Switzerland, neither of which broadcasts calls to prayer, and a further three under consideration.

What better time to bring this issue before the people?

Muslims account for about 310,000 people out of a population of 7.5 million.

But the controversy has echoes of a debate that has seen campaigns across Europe against minarets being built at mosques in Sweden, France, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia. In Cologne, plans to expand the Ditib Mosque with a dome and two 54-metre minarets triggered an angry response from right-wing groups and the city’s Catholic archbishop.

OK. Story laid out, sort of: "right-wing" groups, and not just in Switzerland, are, in Timespeak, engaging in "racism rows." And the victims here--the Muslims--what's up with them? Or, rather, what's up with their putative defenders in the Swiss...well, not exactly "mainstream," since a good bit of that real estate belongs to the SVP, but in the Swiss establishment? Here's where the reportage gets interesting.

The Swiss Government tried to distance itself from the referendum call amid fears of an anti-Swiss reaction in the Muslim world. Pascal Couchepin, the President, said that the Government would recommend that voters reject the proposed ban.

Other members of Switzerland’s cross-party Government also spoke out against a ban. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Foreign Minister, said that the initiative would lead to a security risk by provoking Muslim anger.

Fear? Retribution? Punishment? Security risks? Anger? That's funny: not the usual set of stock responses around what we generally think of as put-upon, cowed if not cowering, stereotypical victims of "right-wing" "extremist" "racism."

The SVP has a record of using the country’s system of direct democracy to provoke debate about immigration.

What an odd way to refer to the lawful exercise of Switzerland's direct democratic process.

This year it lost a referendum on moves to make it harder to obtain a Swiss passport. The party said it had chosen minarets because they were “symbols of political-religious imperialism” rather than simply traditional architecture. Dominique Baettig, an SVP MP, said: “It is like the veil, it is a symbol of non-integration. We hope that this initiative sends a clear signal that we are calling a halt to the Islamisation of Switzerland. Our hard-won individual liberties are being eroded and that is not acceptable.”

Jasmin Hutter, vice-president of the party, added: “Many women, even socialists, signed this petition because not one Swiss woman can tolerate the way that Muslim men treat their wives.”

The Interior Ministry confirmed that it had received the referendum request but no date had been set. If it was approved, the Swiss Parliament would have to pass a law enshrining a construction ban on minarets in the constitution.

Henri-Maxime Khedoud, spokesman for the Swiss Association of Muslims for Secularism, called the referendum plan an attack against Muslims and contrary to the constitutional freedom of religion. The SVP’s aim was to provoke and get media attention, Mr Khedoud said, adding that it would also make it harder for Muslims to integrate in the Alpine nation.

How does less political Islam make it hard for Muslims to integrate? And why does a "Muslim for Secularism" worry if there's less political Islam? Hmmm.

He was confident that Swiss voters would see it as purely a headline-grabbing move. “I am sure it will be rejected,” he said. [UPDATE: The minaret ban passed.]

I am not so sure.

Doudou Diène, the UN Special Rapporteur on Racism, whose office is in Switzerland, said last year that there was “a dynamic of racism and xenophobia” in the country. The underlying causes were a “deep-rooted cultural resistance within Swiss society to the multiculturalisation process”--


and “the growing prevalence of racist and xenophobic stances in political programmes and discourse, particularly during elections and various votes.”

In other words, voting against your own cultural extinction is racist and xenophobic. Shoulda known.




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