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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Switzerland and its friends

Living near mosques takes getting used to. Five times a day they issue a noisy call for prayer; the first time is approximately an hour and a half before sunrise. I have lived near mosques for years and for the most part they don't bother me (there is one within 500 meters of our home), but I can definitely understand that they bother others. It's a noise that is indescribable.

Reuters reports that Switzerland has voted on Sunday to ban the construction of new minarets, the towers use to project noisy calls for prayer in mosques.
If confirmed, the result would be a huge embarrassment for the neutral Swiss government, which had warned that amending the constitution to ban construction of minarets could serve could "serve the interests of extremist circles."

"The initiative would appear to be accepted, there is a positive trend. It's a huge surprise," French-language Swiss television said, 30 minutes after polls closed at midday.

A majority of voters as well as cantons appeared to have approved the initiative, it said, citing exit polls carried out by the Berne-based Institute Gfs.

Both the Swiss government and parliament had rejected the initiative as violating the Swiss constitution, freedom of religion and the nation's cherished tradition of tolerance. The United Nations human rights watchdog had also voiced concerns.

A group of politicians from the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), the country's biggest party, and Federal Democratic Union gathered enough signatures to force the vote on the initiative which opposes the "Islamisation of Switzerland."
I suppose it would be a 'huge embarrassment,' particularly for Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, pictured above flirting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But in fact, according to Reuters, Switzerland's minarets aren't allowed to issue the loud calls for prayer, and Sunday's vote was a backlash against the Islamization of Switzerland, which now has 300,000 Muslim immigrants among its population of 7,000,000. If today's vote is indicative of change coming in Switzerland, maybe it will mean a change in Switzerland's choice of friends. And such a change cannot come too soon according to Assaf Sagiv.
What a pity, then, that Switzerland’s pastoral image has come at the price of ignoring many of the basic values that any enlightened nation is duty-bound to uphold. In recent months, a series of controversial diplomatic moves have reflected a disturbing eagerness on the part of the Swiss government to appease some of the world’s greatest despots and terrorists, casting doubt (and not for the first time) on the public integrity and political insight of those who advocate a policy of neutrality. Indeed, these actions illustrate the vast moral chasm facing those who may be tempted to follow the Swiss example—a temptation with dangerous implications both for the future of the West and for freedom-loving peoples everywhere.


It might be tempting to chalk Swiss diplomacy up to a case of ovezealous neutrality. Yet it hardly cuts both ways: In July of this year, the official Swiss news agency reported that Ahmadinejad’s congenial hosts had decided to exhibit a more reserved attitude toward the Dalai Lama. Although the exiled Tibetan leader has been a lifelong proponent of non-violent resistance—in stark contrast, for example, to Mahmoud al-Zahar—the Swiss government decided to shun him during his visit to Lausanne in early August. Given that Switzerland is now in advanced negotiations with China over a free-trade agreement, it seems reasonable to conclude that the decision to sidestep the 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner was the result of pressure from Beijing. In a radio interview, Foreign Minister Calmy-Rey reluctantly admitted as much. “It’s not a good time, it’s a difficult period, it’s impossible for me, for my colleagues too,” she said.

By contrast, the Swiss have been particularly obsequious toward Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In July 2008, Gaddafi’s son Hannibal and his wife Aline were arrested in Geneva after beating two domestic employees. After posting half a million Swiss francs in bail, the couple was released two days later. The Libyans were nonetheless outraged: Gaddafi the elder immediately slapped a series of sanctions on Switzerland—which he called a “mafia state” at the yearly G8 meeting—including the halting of all oil exports, the cancellation of all flights between the two countries, and the withdrawal of some $5 billion in Libyan assets from Swiss banks. For the Swiss, this was all too much to bear. During an August 2009 visit to Libya, the Swiss president publicly groveled before his hosts, apologizing for Hannibal’s “unjust arrest.”

The Swiss people are noted for several praiseworthy national traits, such as seriousness and precision. Unfortunately, as their leaders’ recent actions and the not-so-distant past demonstrate, they are sorely lacking in one crucial quality: shame.
Sagiv suggests that Switzerland's 'neutrality' has been out of place for the last 70 years.
In the twentieth century, however, the picture changed dramatically. World War II and the ensuing confrontation between the West and the Soviet bloc were not merely geopolitical conflicts between morally equivalent parties. Rather, they were clashes between worldviews, each of which sought to propel mankind in an opposing direction. These battles set open societies against closed ones, democracies against dictatorships, and value systems that promote pluralism and tolerance (albeit often begrudgingly honored) against ideologies that sought to obliterate the “other.” The battle being waged today between the West and radical Islam is no different. The atrocities carried out by extremist Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Algeria, and Israel—and let us not forget New York—have made it clear that, now as then, the forces of freedom are up against unconstrained evil.

In such a conflict, there is no place for neutrality—or passivity, indifference, and weakness. The reality of our world demands total commitment to one or the other side. Sadly, Switzerland is not the only state that has chosen to be one of what Dante called “the sad souls… who lived without blame and without praise.” Even among those nations that have proclaimed their willingness to fight to protect their freedoms, many too frequently prefer to avoid decisive action, thus enabling their enemies to gather strength and prepare for the next round. Thus, for example, is Israel obliged to sit back and watch while Iran’s nuclear project, which poses an apocalyptic threat to its existence, moves forward, while in America and Europe—not to mention China and Russia—statesmen talk incessantly of “diplomatic channels” and warn against “burning bridges” with the Muslim world. And when the president of the United States asserts, in his initial response to the presidential election fraud in Iran and the subsequent suppression of popular protest, that “it’s not productive” for his country to intervene, his words recall the advice of Switzerland’s fifteenth-century patron saint, Nicholas of Fle, who counseled his flock: “Don’t get involved in other people’s affairs.”

History shows that at times there is simply no escaping involvement in other people’s affairs—lest we wish them to become our own. Winston Churchill once said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” If we seek to avert disaster, we cannot suffice with not feeding the crocodile. We must also confront those who do.
Read the whole thing.

If Sunday's vote banning new minarets passes, it will be a small but significant step in setting Switzerland's neutrality on the right side of the moral divide. As Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey points out on Twitter,
Switzerland is banning the ... extension of a mosque. Not building the mosque itself. Muslim countries do that, to churches.
Still, a Swiss ban on minarets would be a small but important step in the right direction.


At 8:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

It shows the Swiss people are more knowledgeable about Islam than their Islamopandering elites. They want to save their country from a Muslim takeover. All the same, I have a feeling their decision won't be allowed to stand in today's politically correct Europe.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Joe said...

"A ruler who does not recognize evils in the very first stages cannot be considered wise." - Machiavelli

Muslims don't number more than 10% of the population in Europe, but combined with their high immigration, their fertility rate vs. European fertility rate, soon their youth will definitely be close to a majority of the continents youth.

People are already recognizing the evils of increasing Muslim populations...they can still do something about it, but it has to be done now.


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