Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Swiss Minarets/European Crucifixes

The story continues predictably enough. Some protest that the prohibition on minaret construction prevents Muslims from worshipping - well, not really. Just as Christians can worship if neccesary without towers and church bells, so can Muslims without minarets.
Governments and opposition are all falling over themselves to distance themselves from the democratic decision of the Swiss people - our political masters do not trust us with democracy.
Most puzzlingly of all we find that Switzerland is regarded in some quarters as having lost its credibility as a secular state because of this decision. Puzzlingly, because the recent court judgement prohibiting crucifixes in public places was hailed as a sign that Europe was organised on secular principles.
It is interesting to note what the European Convention has to say on the subject. Article Nine proclaims the absolute right of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It is essential that one should be free to manifest one's religion - though this 'right' interestingly enough, may be limited by law. Any such limitation must be shown as 'neccesary in a democratic socity.'
This no doubt provides employment for lawyers and helps them put food on the table for their children - but does it really mean anything at all? It is not clear that the removal of crucifixes is 'neccesary in a democratic society.' Meanwhile the Swiss go their democratic way and the world reviles them for it.

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