The result of the Swiss referendum banning the building of minarets was quickly followed by headlines and articles denouncing the Swiss. 57 percent of Swiss voters voted for the ban, against the predictions of the polls and the experts.
Leaders, politicians and commentators from all over Europe said it was a bad thing, the Swiss would regret it, the decision would be overturned when reason and human rights finally prevailed.
So was this reaction the real voice of Europe?
On 30 November, two days following the vote, TimesOnline published an article entitled Europe unites to deplore Swiss ban on minarets by Charles Bremner in Paris. It generated 484 online comments. The tone of these comments is well represented by the comment with the most reader recommendations.
A Connor wrote: Europe unites to deplore Swiss ban on minarets??? I must be living on a different planet. The comments by readers to this story on various European media sites, including this one, appear at least to be 90% in favour of the Swiss vote. (618 recommendations)
Or as another put it even more elegantly
Hilton Gray wrote: Europe unites to deplore Swiss ban?… Charles Bremner you’re smoking your socks! The only people deploring this are you lefty multi-culti idiots. The rest of us are cheering – Well done to the Swiss!!! (67 recommendations)
Nick B wrote: Surely the headline should be “European politicians unite to ignore the views of the majority, and continue to give ever greater concessions to political Islam”? (52 recommendations)
Well, that is just the start because if you look at the top 100 reader recommended comments on this article they are all, every single one, in favour of the Swiss. These top 100 comments got 12,544 reader recommendations in total, and even allowing for readers to vote for several comments it could easily represent a sample of several thousand TimesOnline readers.
The comments and the various points made in them can be categorised. All of them fit surprisingly well into one of the following. Those that:
(1) Say simply “well done the Swiss”!
(2) Criticize Islam, Muslims and multi-culturalism: Islam is an intolerant and aggressive religion, Muslims do not integrate, they demand too much, multi-culturalism does’t work.
(3) Say it’s “democracy in action”. It’s a good thing. There should be more of it especially to counter the growing undemocratic power of the EU. If we could vote you would get the same result!
(4) Point out the ban is only on building minarets. Muslims are completely free to practice their religion so what is the fuss about!
(5) Contrast religious freedom in Europe with the difficulties Christians face in Muslim countries including the bans in Saudi Arabia and the problems of the Copts in Egypt.
|Recommendations Supporting Point|
|Well done the Swiss||3522|
|Islam is intolerant and aggressive. Multi-culturalism doesn’t work||5895|
|It’s democracy in action. Europe needs more democracy||4996|
|Banning only minarets, not the religion||1197|
|Little or no religious freedom in Muslim countries||2478|
The same day Oliver Kamm, the respected Times leader writer, blogged a piece entitled Swiss minaret ban fits pattern of populist protest in Western Europe saying “Parties of the Right have campaigned vigorously against the supposedly alien influence spread by Muslim populations” and ending with the view that “The Danish Government valiantly upheld freedom of expression against attempts to stifle it. The Swiss electorate has, by contrast, struck a blow against freedom of association and conscience. It should be speedily overturned.”
30 people commented on this blog; two comments couldn’t be classified, two had some sympathy with Mr Kamm, 26 were against and supported the Swiss. The one that got the most reader recommendations said: “Personally. I think that it’s about time that we had a similar referendum here in the UK….”
Further proof, if such is needed, of a yawning gap between what European leaders, politicians and commentators proclaim concerning Islam and what people really think can be found at the Guardian’s “Comment is free” (Cif) website, which one might tentatively think of as a fount of liberal political correctness. It continually gives platforms to Islamic propagandists. See article below.