Monday, November 30, 2009

European Right: Let's all ban minarets

Various responses to the Swiss decision to ban minarets.

"Switzerland is sending us a clear signal: yes to church towers, no to minarets," says Italian minister Roberto Calderoli of Lega Nord. "In the popular referendum the Swiss balanced respect for freedom of religion with the need to stop the politics and propaganda linked to Islam."

Riccardo De Corato of the PdL party says that the minaret ban should be a lesson for Italy's Left.

Geert Wilders congratulated Switzerland and said: What is possible in Switzerland should be possible here too." He says his party will call on the cabinet to make such a referendum possible in the Netherlands, and if not, the PVV will propose such a law.

Filip Dewinter of the Belgian Vlaams Belang says: Just like Wilhelm Tell, the Swiss are a symbol for the resistance of many Europeans against foreign domination. The Islam, with its minarets and mosques, doesn't belong in Europe.

"Common sense has again gained on politically correct thinking. Despite decades of multicultural indoctrination the tenability of the Swiss hasn't been broken yet (..) Islam indeed doesn't belong in Europe. In contrast to the political authorities which embrace Islam and collaborate with it, a majority of Europeans wants to call a sound stop to the advancing Islam."

He will propose a bill in the Flemish parliament to stop the building of mosques and minarets in Flanders.

Head of the Turkish Community in Germany (TGD) Kenan Kolat told Berlin daily Berliner Zeitung that the decision was "very regrettable," adding that basic rights such as religious freedom should not be allowed to come to popular vote.

"A minaret belongs to a mosque," Kolat said.

But Wolfgang Bosbach, a conservative Christian Democrat heading the parliamentary committee on interior policy, said that the vote should be taken seriously. He told daily Hamburger Abendblatt on Monday that the vote reflects a widely held fear of Islam within German society – though he said German laws provided enough solutions for practical decisions about minaret construction.

"But there are spectacular plans for large structures, such as in Cologne's Ehrenfeld district or in Duisburg-Marxloh, for which there is a lot of resistance simply because of the size," he told the paper.

Bosbach added that is "possible that some of these large buildings were planned to signal how strong Islam has become in Germany."

Pia Kjærsgaard of the Danish People's Party proposed in parliament to bring up the issue as a popular referendum. A third of the parliament members can decide to send a bill to a decision by popular referendum.

Karsten Lauritzen of the Liberal Party rejects the idea: "We don't legislate in parliament on particular buildings. And then there are some who will think it's limiting freedom of religion. I don't say that it is, but that it's an element in the issue." Lauritzen also said that this isn't an issue for a popular referendum. Denmark has a democracy with politician to make decision and if the people are unsatisfied with the decisions, they can vote for different politicians.

Sweden has criticised the outcome of a Swiss referendum approving the ban of minarets in the country. Speaking to Swedish Radio news, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the vote an evidence of prejudices among the Swiss population.

The clear no to the building of further minarets in Switzerland could indicate some kind of fear towards Muslims, Bildt added. But the vote is likely to send negative signals on all levels, the Foreign Minister predicted.

Sources: Aftenbladet (Norwegian); SR, The Local (English); Berlingske (Danish); AD, HLN (Dutch)

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