Wednesday, October 28, 2020 -
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No minarets in Switzerland

As a Jew, it is difficult for me to hear about the surprising vote in Switzerland this week to ban the construction of minarets. How is this out and out discrimination different from the Nuremberg laws passed in Germany  that shut down Jewish life, Jewish worship?

Granted, the issue here seems to be specifically the construction of a minaret. But a minaret is a minaret. It is the Muslim symbol. Just as when I see a Star of David it locates me Jewishly — I know I am with a “lanzman,” with my people — so it is, I’m sure, for a Muslim in connection with the minaret.

Symbols are powerful communicators, a language unto themselves. Here we are talking about a symbol for Muslims, a symbol of their language of prayer.

It seems to me this new ban is discriminatory against the Muslim community — pure and simple. Read the related blog post, “Questions”

And yet.

As a Jew, someone who according to Sharia (Islamic) law would fit its definition of a dhimmi, I can’t help but see this new law through the eyes of a Jew. Islamic law defines me as a dhimmi. Ironically, what Switzerland has just imposed on its Muslim community is precisely what the Muslim community has imposed and does impose on non-Muslim minorities (“dhimmis”).

According to Sharia law, as a dhimmi living in Muslim society, I absolutely would be limited in my expression. So many aspects of life would be limited and controlled.

For example, a dhimmi may not build a house as high as he would choose.

A dhimmi’s form of transportation is inferior to that of a Muslim.

A dhimmi’s position in a court of law is inferior to that of a Muslim, basically guaranteeing that the outcome is never on the dhimmi’s side.

In reality, the Swiss law is, for Muslims, a taste of their own medicine. A taste of their own dhimmitude, so to speak. Poetic justice, of sorts. 

OF course, this doesn’t make it right. Plus, honestly, I feel bad  that all of the Muslim communities in the world are paying this price. It is not the ululating “alahu akbar” extremists who are being singled out, but more moderate Muslims, the Swiss Muslim community.

This ban has come along totally unprovoked by the Swiss Muslim community. This community has not acted as a hostile foreign minority, invading the land. Feeling rejected and distanced from one’s own symbols in this way must be very painful. It seems totally unfair.

At the same time, it seems unfair that the Muslim community and religion builds mosques and minarets all over the world, but would never grant such a religious freedom to others in Muslim nations. The Muslim community does not extend the courtesy and respect to others by which it expects to be treated. Try to build a church or shul in Saudi Arabia. See how that works out.

Not to mention — here is a thought to ponder — just imagine how the UN would respond if it were Israel, not Switzerland, banning minarets. Yeah. Just imagine that.

I feel conflicted about this issue.  I don’t want the prism by which I see this ban to be that of the intolerant, discriminatory Muslim Sharia law that makes minorities dhimmis. And yet, I can’t help but see this ban from the Swiss point of view, too. 

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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