Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Minarets in Switzerland

I found it hard to believe, but one of our writers for the BYU Political Review was strongly in favor of the recent popular initiative in Switzerland to ban construction of minarets on top of mosques in that country, like the one in Zurich on the left here. So we each wrote an article, pro and con. You can read hers in favor of the ban here, and my argument against it here [update: pdf version on google drive here, see page 3].

I had to edit my article down some for size constraints, so I'm afraid that the transition to the final paragraph could have been much improved, but I really wanted to include it because I feel like this recent brouhaha in Switzerland is a great chance for us as Americans generally and Mormons specifically to think about what we might do (and are doing) in analogous situations. I think most Mormons are against the ban, and hopefully the realization that the Swiss courts are the best chance to get rid of it will remind those Mormons who have espoused a "courts are enemies of democracy!" mentality (especially recently as some American judges have disagreed with the official Mormon stance on marriage) that the judicial system does have a place in protecting minority rights, whether or not one agrees with all of their decisions.

Anyhow, let me know what you think of both articles either here or on the comments on the BYU PR website. It will probably be the last article I'll ever have in the Political Review, but I think it's a good one, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of that publication.


  1. I feel like the "pro" article was pretty weak. I mean, sure minarets are "strictly" part of the muslim faith, but I bet she would object to a hypothetical ban on spires on LDS temples (like in Boston, they could say it was against Catholic culture). Who is she to say that the swiss have a right to enforce their cultural prejudices? But I guess there is always someone on the other side of the issue. Your article is very good!

  2. And when I say "are" part of the Muslim faith I mean "aren't" - whoops!

  3. BYU used to have a religious exemption to its no beard rule for Sikhs, etc. Sometime between 1995 and 2006 they got rid of that exemption--I know at least one orthodox Sikh student who decided to shave rather than lose his student visa.

    Issues of religious respect hit pretty close to home.

  4. James, that is truly, truly sad.