The Swiss vote highlights the debate on Islam as a set of political and collectivist ideas, not a rejection of Muslims.
The recent Swiss referendum that bans construction of minarets has caused controversy across the world. There are two ways to interpret the vote. First, as a rejection of political Islam, not a rejection of Muslims. In this sense it was a vote tolerance and inclusion, which political Islam rejects. Second, the vote was a revelation of the big gap between how the Swiss people and the Swiss elite judge political Islam.
In the battle of ideas, symbols are important.
What if the Swiss voters were asked in a referendum to ban the building of an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles as a symbol of the belief of a small minority? Or imagine a referendum on building towers topped with a hammer and sickle – another symbol dear to the hearts of a very small minority in Switzerland.
Political ideas have symbols: A swastika, a hammer and sickle, a minaret, a crescent with a star in the middle (usually on top of a minaret) all represent a collectivist political theory of supremacy by one group over all others.
On controversial issues, the Swiss listen to debate, read newspapers, and otherwise investigate when they make up their minds for a vote.
What Europeans are finding out about Islam as they investigate is that it is more than just a religion. Islam offers not only a spiritual framework for dealing with such human questions as birth, death, and what ought to come after this world; it prescribes a way of life.
Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual's relationship to the state; the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword.
The minaret is a symbol of Islamist supremacy, a token of domination that came to symbolize Islamic conquest. It was introduced decades after the founding of Islam.
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