Voters in a nationwide referendum, in Switzerland have approved a ban on the construction of new minarets. Whist for many Muslims in the West this was not surprising considering the rising anti-foreigner attitude in Switzerland. For many Muslims in the Muslim world this may have come as a surprise. The nation in the Alps, known for its ski resorts and banking industry may even be unknown to many Muslims in the Islamic world. The Swiss ban should not be viewed in isolation, it is part of a general campaign by the Capitalist nations and now Western populations who view Islam with disdain and threatening the very way of life the West has embraced. The Swiss People’s Party, which campaigned for the ban and has concentrated its recent political campaigns almost exclusively on xenophobic messages, has seen a considerable rise in popularity in the last 10 years. With foreigners comprising around 20% of the Swiss population of 7.7 million, the overall anti-foreigner message (which is not exclusively anti-Muslim) has resonated with the traditionally insulated Swiss, particularly in the less cosmopolitan cantons of central Switzerland. A mosque in Geneva was vandalized three times in the run up to the referendum. Switzerland is home to approximately 400,000 Muslims (about 5.1% of the Swiss population), most of whom are from Turkey or various republics of the former Yugoslavia. The attacks on Islam after 9/11 have created an atmosphere of Nationalism, and right-wing parties have latched onto this opportunity and are on the rise in almost all parts of Western Europe. The rising number of immigrants in Europe has led many Europeans to regard them, most of who are Muslim, as a threat to their culture and jobs. According to a recent study, one in two Europeans believes there are too many immigrants in Europe. In line with this trend, right-wing parties that are openly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim have now gained widespread popular support in Austria, France, Netherlands, Denmark, and in Britain as well. The Rise of the Far Right in Mainland Europe Post 9/11, has accelerated vocalisation of anti-Muslim fervour that continues to plague Europe. From the publishing of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم infuriating the Global Muslim population to the production of Geert Wilders abhorrent ‘Fitna’ video; the subject of Islam has been a target for relentless attack. Further to this, policies in France and parts of Germany banning the Hijab in some public premises has resulted in Muslim women being denied the basic right to education, employment and healthcare facilities. Such a phenomena of hatred towards Muslims and ethnic minorities is in reality ingrained in the history of mainland Europe. History can testify to the lack of welcome of ‘foreigners’ by the ‘host population’ – many being unforgiving and unforgetful of past differences. Tolerance of the other has been overwritten by the overwhelming sentiment of bitterness and resentment. For instance the tensions between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia by Serbs, the Nazi slaughter of Jews and Gypsies have left bitter scars in peoples’ attitudes and perceptions. Tolerance in plural societies is therefore a somewhat farfetched idea when the cause behind such wars have been lack of coexistence or acceptance of differences, and an attempt to forcefully assimilate those of other beliefs and values. European nations face a catch 22 situation. On the one hand, they need more immigrants from the developing world to guarantee the sustainability of their economic systems due to their ageing populations. On the other hand, every additional immigrant in Europe is turning the average European into a more nationalist and less tolerant person. As noted in a 2004 report by the RAND corporation, “the sheer number of immigrants required to offset population aging in the EU and its member states would be unacceptable in Europe’s current socio-political climate.” Denmark has attempted to solve this problem. In November 2009 the Danish parliament increased tenfold the amount of money offered to immigrants who permanently return to their home countries. The Danish government is now paying every immigrant 100,000 Danish kroner ($20,000) if he or she chooses to leave Denmark. However it needs to be understood that the Swiss decision on minarets and the general anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as some of the polices to tackle the Ummah in the West reflects a far deeper fear shared by thousands of people in Western Europe. Until the events of 9/11 integration of the Ummah followed two distinct policies. The first was that Muslims would show their loyalty to the host nation and in return their religious needs would be catered for, this was the case in continental Europe. Britain on the other hand viewed integration as a process of offering the Muslims everything in return for their loyalty. The subsequent invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan showed the West that the Ummah held on to Islam and stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ummah under attack. Muslims in the West have since the events of 9/11 held onto Islam and have in fact become more political, this development is the West’s biggest problem. This is because any people who engage in political struggle will lead the call for their own state with their own system of governance. Whilst the Ummah is not looking to establish Islam in the West, the rising Muslim population, with Islamic politics at its centre along with a more aware Ummah becoming more and more in tune with Islam and with many in the West embracing Islam for the West the Ummah is challenging the West’s way of life – Capitalism. The direct attacks on Islam and attempts by the West to ban parts of Islam are in fact Capitalism attempting to defend itself. The direct attacks on Islam shows the Ummah in the West to her credit never integrated or abandoned the deen but actually held onto it. The attacks on Islam and Muslims in Europe are because Muslims refuse to abandon political Islam and support Western policies around the world. European governments understand very well as the Qur’aysh did at the time of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم that political ideas always end with government. This is why the Khilafah is continually branded as totalitarian and dictatorial. The stage is set for the return of the Khilafah. The Muslims in the Muslim world need to make this happen, and the Ummah in the West stand must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ummah globally for the return of Allah’s سبحانه وتعالى deen.
Swiss Minaret Ban