In a national referendum, the Swiss have voted to ban the construction of minarets, prompting charges that the country is succombing to prejudice and "Islamophobia." Support for the measure was largely driven by the conservative Swiss People's Party, who argue that the minaret—a characteristically Muslim architectural form—is a symbol of a radical Islam. Is Switzerland justified in banning the structures? (Watch a report about Switzerland passing a minaret ban)
The ban is racist: The referendum ought to "shame Switzerland and worry Europe," says the editorial board of The Guardian. It was an instance of nation's characteristic "Alpine distrust of outsiders" lapsing into into explicit "racism." The vote will harm the country and tarnish its "cherished national brand."
"Switzerland: Hatred beneath the harmony"
Switzerland has a right to preserve its culture: The "outcry" over perceived "racism" is "predictable," says Jim Prevor at the Weekly Standard. But is it racist for a nation to takes steps to protect its "language, food, religion, government, architecture and all the things that make up a culture?" Whether or not minarets are built in Switzerland "is of little importance" either way. The real issue is whether it is a "legitimate" aspiration for a nation to want to maintain itself as a home for a culturally distinct population.
"The Swiss ban minarets"
It's kind of pointless, actually: This vote "was a decidedly mild-mannered sort of protest," says the Wall Street Journal. Although minarets are now banned, "the building of mosques is unaffected." Ultimately, though, the measure doesn't accomplish much since "it becomes a very visible and easily exploited symbol of supposed European intolerance" while it also ignores the real problems around radical Islam that "gave rise to the fear of the minaret in the first place."
"Switzerland and the minaret"