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Juan Cole has an excellent explanation in Salon as to why even secular people should be offended by Switzerland's recent referendum banning minarets on mosques. He concludes with the telling observation:
The other Wahhabi state besides Saudi Arabia, Qatar, has allowed the building of Christian churches. But they are not allowed to have steeples or bells. This policy is a mirror image to that of the Swiss. So Switzerland, after centuries of striving for civilization and enlightenment, has just about reached the same level of tolerance as that exhibited by a small Gulf Wahhabi country, the people of which were mostly Bedouins only a hundred years ago.
I would not have a problem with banning the call to prayer from a minaret on the grounds that it can be an auditory intrusion upon people that do not subscribe to the faith in question, especially when it is broadcast by means of loudspeakers. From all accounts however, mosques in Switzerland and for that matter in much of Europe have not actually announced the call to prayer from minarets anyway, so as not to offend local sensitivities. Therefore, the Swiss referendum appears to have been a reaction to a non-existent problem.
One can only hope that Barack Obama's expected deployment of about 30000 troops to Aghanistan does not prove to be the tragic mistake that Bob Herbert posits in the NY Times, but there is not much reason for hope.