Sunday, December 6, 2009

Swiss in the doghouse

THE Swiss are not known for making global headlines. Like the way they run their banks, they prefer the conservative and low-key approach to handling any issue.

But they have suddenly been condemned worldwide for their decision to ban the building of minarets on mosques.

The decision, backed by the country’s far right Swiss People’s Party, is as good as banning the construction of mosques.

The advocates of this policy have equated minarets to Islamisation, with caricatures on posters showing the physical similarities between minarets and missiles.

They also argued that minarets were incompatible with the country’s political and legal systems as mosques advocated the imposition of Syariah laws.

The controversy started in the small town of Langenthal when its community of 750 Muslims applied for permission to add a minaret to its mosque. The town, with a population of 14,500, has 11 churches.

Read the rest of my column published in The Sunday Star today, here.


Anonymous said...

Hi Wong - what do you say about the Saudi Arab policy of not allowing churches and temples in that country?
What do you say, when the Malaysian government does not allow other religions the opportunity to be broadcast on radio and tv?
Why do you chose to ignore the blatant inequality in the propagation of religions in our country? Do you know that the Thais allow full scale access to radio and television by the Muslims in Thailand? Compare that to the Malaysia government. Just examine your own position critically and dont be a hippocrite!

Anonymous said...

You run a major newspaper right?. How stupid can you be to post such a statement 'The decision, backed by the country’s far right Swiss People’s Party, is as good as banning the construction of mosques.'
You are rather presumptuous, who said that, do you have such statements made moron. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT, they don't want MINARETS because of noise pollution, the ban is for the minarets.
For your information Switzerland has been taking in rufugees inclusive of muslims for a very long time, from egypt, afghanistan, lebanon, syria, iran, iraq, kurds, pakistanis. Did your Malaysia help any of these muslim refugees? Nada, so get of your high horse and STFU, same goes to all others. Don't try to hold the high moral ground when you have none. Look at your own backyard, Malaysia sells its refugees as slaves or keep them in concentration camps, SO shame on you and your bunch of monkeys from Malaysia.

Geronimo said...

Hi Chun Wai, are you anti Swiss or what? Why don't you pose the same question to the Saudis who prohibited the building of any Christian churches in the Kingdom despite Pope John Paul II kind gesture to allow the Saudis to build a mosque in the Vatican City. On the local front, the Divine Mercy Church in Glenmarie was not even allowed to have a cross placed on the building by the last UMNO state government. For further humiliation, the church must look like a factory.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonymous and Geronimo beat me to it.

How typically hippocritical!

Unknown said...

So if the Saudis do something wrong, it's perfectly fine to condone another mistake by the Swiss? 2 wrongs do not make a right. This tit-for-tat pettiness is what's screwing up the world today.

Anonymous said...

The anger in your readers’ comments tells me that the issue hit very close to home, and reopened old wounds. So I better tread carefully :)

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The actions of other governments in restricting religious buildings, rights etc e.g. the Malaysian government in Glen Marie and the Saudis re churches etc. cannot be used to defend the Swiss action. If those decisions were wrong, they remain wrong. They should continue to be criticized, ALONG with criticisms of the Swiss action. Hopefully the Malaysian and Saudi governments realize that the shoe is now on the other foot and rethink their position. They are more likely to do so if right-thinking people also criticize the Swiss action, instead of absolving the Swiss BECAUSE the Saudis and the Malaysians also did it.

The interesting aspect of the Swiss ban is that it was done democratically. More than 50% of the votes were for the ban. Does that make it legitimate and morally sound? In a democracy, should 51% of the people be allowed to legislate anything they wish, including restricting the fundamental rights of the remaining 49%?

I am surprised that there is nothing in the Swiss constitution which protects the fundamental human rights of its Muslim citizens (freedom of worship) and which can be used to challenge the vote in court.

However, even when the Swiss government reverses itself (I’m confident they will), the real problem is still there. Over 50% of the voters have concerns with Islam in Switzerland. The minaret was just the symbol for all the concerns. What are those concerns? Are they real or over-blown?

Obviously the Swiss will be talking amongst themselves. Being practical people, we might learn a thing or two from them on how to resolve seemingly intractable issues.


yat said...

come on u guys,

Part of suadi arabia (mekah and madianah) is a no place for non-muslim, not just church, but non-muslim too, But other place in arab land you can build a church, evnthough it's strict, but not in mekah and madinah. full stop...

not that all muslim country ban the construction of church or temple.....

Anonymous said...

This is the same as no Allah in the bible. So why the negative take? Why the double standard?

I think you have been working too long in the Star. You have developed a warped sense of justice.

Anonymous said...

MR Wong, PLEASE be informed that in our country all new churches must be located inside a factory or shoplot, no stand-alone building, and no funding from government unlike mosques. And funny nobody said a thing here.The Swiss are the most reasonable europeans if you have a chance to have dealt with them before.

Anonymous said...

wow! your paper is being labeled pro Chin Peng the terrorist.

Communism got nothing to do with Chin Peng's terrorism. It's just Chin Peng does not believe in democracy and very similar to the other terrorist Osama.

So we know who you are now

Malaysia an oil cursed nation said...

Datuk, please publish Tengku Razaleigh' speech: 'Our oil wealth squandered' in the
Star: Malaysia an oil cursed nation and let the Malaysians know how our politicians had squandered our resources.