In his Dec. 6 article, “The Swiss and Iranian agents of provocation,” Gwynne Dyer commits at least two mistakes — sadly so for one claiming to be an expert in international politics: (1) He compares the referendum in which the Swiss people took responsibility to voice their opinion with the actions of a single caudillo, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; and (2) he concludes — evidently without having read Swiss newspapers or the official referendum documents of both sides — that the Swiss decision was racist.
Actually the referendum was never against Muslims or any other religious group. It was about buildings whose appearance would leave a definite noncontinental imprint on neighborhoods. While there are, indeed, only four minarets in Switzerland, planning permission was sought before the referendum for several more. However, numerous mosques exist entirely undisturbed in their community.
It is clear that the Swiss will vote this way again as long as their female head of state is required to cover her head when visiting Muslim countries, and as long as the Swiss themselves are not allowed to practice their own religion without harassment in any of the countries in question.
To assume that “provocation” was at the focus of said referendum causes me to doubt whether Dyer has had any real- life experiences with respect to Switzerland. If he had, I’m sure that, at the end of the day, he would have discovered that Switzerland is much more akin to Japan, just as he might have observed how similar the United States and Iran are.
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