When the Swiss Voted to Ban New Minarets, This Man Built One
BUSSIGNY, Switzerland -- In November, Switzerland voted to ban the construction of new minarets, the towerlike structures that adorn mosques. A week or so later, in an apparent act of defiance, a new minaret unexpectedly sprang up here.
But the new minaret is not attached to a mosque; this small town near Geneva doesn't even have one. And it's not the work of a local Muslim outraged by Switzerland's controversial vote to ban the structures, which often are used to launch the call to prayer.
Instead, Bussigny's minaret is attached to the warehouse of a shoe store called Pomp It Up, which is part of a Swiss chain. It was erected by the chain's owner, Guillaume Morand, who fashioned it out of plastic and wood and attached it to a chimney. The new minaret, nearly 20 feet high and illuminated at night, is clearly visible from the main highway connecting Lausanne and Geneva.
"The referendum was a scandal," Mr. Morand said recently at his cavernous warehouse, near pallets piled high with shoe boxes as pop music played on an old stereo system. "I was ashamed to be Swiss. I don't have the power to do much, but I wanted to give a message of peace to Muslims."
He is not a Muslim, nor a Christian. In fact he is an atheist but finds himself aghast at the ludicrous law banning minarets in Switzerland. The gesture is described by some as “infantile” but good for this guy standing up for religious freedom. On a day when I posted an article about the first Anabaptist martyr being murdered by fellow “Christians” in Switzerland, it was nice to read about someone standing up for freedom in that nation. I wish more Christians would have been more vocal about it, one can only imagine the outcry if the Swiss had banned steeples on Christian churches.