Swiss voters right to crush the architecture of dominance

From The National Post.

Barbara Kay: Swiss right on minarets

Posted: December 02, 2009, 9:24 PM by Matt Gurney

Switzerland’s official ban on the construction of new minarets has naturally elicited the usual reflexive cries of “Islamophobia” amongst multiculturally correct commentators, not to mention fears of Danish-cartoon style blowback fomented by excitable Islamist demagogues.

These emotional reactions obscure a crucial point about minarets, and all other tall, pointy architectural symbols that draw the eye upward. Like the Twin Towers for example. Whether they are religious or secular in conception, structures that physically dominate the landscape by means of height send a message to observers – and nobody can choose *not* to observe them – that what the structure stands for is a dominant cultural force in people’s lives. The twin Towers stood for the dominant role of capitalism and commercial hegemony that is a point of pride for Americans. That is precisely why they were chosen as targets for destruction.

Churches were built with steeples so that everyone in the surrounding landscape could find their way to them. They were always situated as the central point of a town. People flocked to them on Sundays. The steeple was a natural expression of unified opinion as to what the ruling belief was for the townspeople. That is part of our western heritage and our national  histories.

But who is building churches today with this message of dominance and cultural importance? Look around. Churches and synagogues are no taller than their surrounding neighbours. That too is a message.

Switzerland is not banning mosques, in which religious activity and observance takes place. They have banned what in Islamic countries is very well understood as a symbol of cultural dominance.

You will not find church steeples in Muslim countries. No other religious symbol would ever be allowed to challenge the dominance of Islam. Minarets in western countries are meant as a statement of cultural challenge: They say in their own tangible and unavoidable way, “Islam is the religion you must literally look up to.” A landscape dotted with multiple replications of this message would create a psychologically intimidating atmosphere for non-Muslims. The Swiss were right to nip this thorny flower in the bud.

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