Sunday, 17 November 2013

But Religion Has Nothing To Do With It: Minarets are Political Symbols

As to the decision by Switzerland to ban minarets, I would like first of all to say that, in my years as a correspondent from Jerusalem, I had to bear the Muezzin’s call from a nearby mosque every night at 4 a.m., much before the cock crow. And nor far away from him came many other similar voices. However, I never thought that the Muezzin had to be silent. In his village, he does not sing to be heard also from me, but to call his followers to pray. This is religious freedom and Jerusalem gives it to everybody. Thinking that, down there, he was trying to convey a political message in addition to a religious one would mean to go well beyond what is legitimate for a person who is democratic, liberal and respectful of other people’s culture and religion.

Actually, except for some pathological cases, Islamophobia is an invention of the U.N. Indeed, in 2004, the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan officially defined it as the cause of frustration for many Muslims, without mentioning the rampant jihad and other huge problems. In fact, in most countries of origin and abroad, the official Islam has not accepted the universal declaration of human rights. But it has responded with other initiatives such as the Cairo Declaration, which states that “anyone has the right to support what is right and to warn against what is wrong and evil in line with the Islamic Sharia”.

The ultimate reason that led the Swiss to say no to new minarets is not poor respect for religious freedom. It is not even the loss of identity that is driving us – erroneously – to ask for the cross on our flag. It has nothing to do with this. There are many simple reasons of diffidence that prevent from wishing for the expansion of Islam. Nor should we imagine that this choice invites the Muslim to embrace extremism. There are indeed other reasons behind jihadism – that is fed only by itself and by its unflinching decision to convert the world. The Swiss watch the TV and are concerned: the Sharia leads to death sentences, to the hanging of homosexuals, to stoning people to death. In general, Islamic countries are ruled by dictatorships, the dissidents suffer, they die. The Christians are persecuted, let alone the Jews. The groups and the countries that cry their faith louder are also the most evident ones: certainly both Ahmadinejad's Iran and the Hezbollah, or Hamas or Al Qaida, represent negative, terrorist models.

Of course, the Islam is not all like this. But, let us talk about it. Let us thoroughly examine the problems without being accused of Islamophobia; we have a problem, either we solve it by looking at the Islamic immigration in its eyes, or soon this concern will turn into rejection. And the idea that the true Islam is elsewhere with respect to jihad is not able to placate these fears within the public opinion: there are few and rare instances in which a brave Islamic voice speaks to guarantee the respect for democracy, sexuality, converted individuals, dissidents. It is the politically correct denial that makes jihad prosper: in Switzerland, after the arrest of eight people who allegedly collaborated to some suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia, the reaction of the head of a local Muslim group was that “the problem is not the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, but the intesification of Islamophobia”. In the USA, the same happened after the Fort Hood incident.

It is forbidden to laugh for some cartoons that talk about Islam. It is forbidden to deal with the terrifying oppression of women, it is disgraceful to stress that there is an evident identification between the Islam and totalitarian regimes. It is horrible to raise the issue of honor killing, polygamy and of disfiguring women with acid that push us back in time (yes, many of these episodes result from tribal and not by religious habits, but please let us look at the geographical and sociological distribution of these episodes) and especially it is generic to speak about jihad... And then, since whatever is concrete is forbidden, the reaction is against the symbols of the Islam.

There are millions of mosques without minarets in Islamic countries. But if they are built close to churches, they are taller, more proud and powerful. The construction of an Islamic place of worship has a series of explicit secular meanings that always reiterate the holy competition of the Islam to conquer the world. Many mosques have been built on ancient Jewish and Christian temples.

A revolt against the politically correct on the Islam may occur anywhere and the trigger will not be religious intolerance: it does not belong to us or to Switzerland or to Europe.



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