Much has been made of the fact that the Swiss population rejected via a referendum the further propagation of religious symbols across the Swiss landscape in the form of minarets on mosques. Predictably, the politically correct have cried foul and see this as an assault on the freedom to practice a religion.
And – not surprisingly – most of the noise about this will come from the Muslim communities around the world, and which are not exactly known for their tolerance of divergent religious beliefs in their midst. In fact, they are the least likely to make allowances for other religions in their communities – and the irony of this should not be lost on anyone
But let’s be clear: this is less about the freedom of religion, and more about the need by some to brand the landscape with one’s particular flavor of religious superstition through the use of distinctive architecture.
When this has happened, I can’t help but think of how similar this is to what animals do to mark their territory (!) But by erecting one’s uniquely symbolic architecture across the country is one way to assert ownership or control of sorts. This is religion at its very tribal origin – and goes together with all the other outward symbols of religious tribalism, such as hairstyles, beards, turbans and other headgear, e.g., burkas, kippahs, shtreimels, as well as specific rituals, such as genital mutilation, etc.
And so this wasn’t at all about some religious group not being able to practice their faith in public. But by rejecting the public display of their most visible and overt symbolism of their faith across their landscape, the Swiss are in effect only saying that “believe what you want, but don’t claim our landscape with it!”