Questionable Motives

December 10, 2009

The Swiss plebiscite: is banning a symbol a show of tolerance?

Filed under: Islam,Law,Secularism,tolerance — tildeb @ 2:25 pm

What Europeans are finding out about Islam as they investigate is that it is more than just a religion. Islam offers not only a spiritual framework for dealing with such human questions as birth, death, and what ought to come after this world; it prescribes a way of life.

Islam is an idea about how society should be organized: the individual’s relationship to the state; the relationship between men and women; rules for the interaction between believers and unbelievers; how to enforce such rules; and why a government under Islam is better than a government founded on other ideas. These political ideas of Islam have their symbols: the minaret, the crescent; the head scarf, and the sword.

The minaret is a symbol of Islamist supremacy, a token of domination that came to symbolize Islamic conquest. It was introduced decades after the founding of Islam.

The Swiss vote highlights the debate on Islam as a domestic issue in Europe. That is, Islam as a set of political and collectivist ideas. Native Europeans have been asked over and over again by their leaders to be tolerant and accepting of Muslims. They have done that. And that can be measured a) by the amount of taxpayer money that is invested in healthcare, housing, education, and welfare for Muslims and b) the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who are knocking on the doors of Europe to be admitted. If those people who cry that Europe is intolerant are right, if there was, indeed, xenophobia and a rejection of Muslims, then we would have observed the reverse. There would have been an exodus of Muslims out of Europe.

There is indeed a wider international confrontation between Islam and the West. The Iraq and Afghan wars are part of that, not to mention the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians and the nuclear ambitions of Iran. That confrontation should never be confused with the local problem of absorbing those Muslims who have been permitted to become permanent residents and citizens into European societies.

Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s entire article here.

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