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January 2010: Minaret Ban and Human Rights

Introduction to the Month's Focal PieceAnnotation of

“My Compatriots' Vote to Ban Minarets is Fuelled by Fear” by Tariq Ramadan. The Guardian. November 29, 2009.

~ The Editors

Richard BurchillDemocracy and Flame-Fanning Populists: An Undesirable Yet Inevitable Combination
by Richard Burchill

“My personal view is that the referendum is regrettable, but it is also the popular choice of the Swiss people today. Like all populist movements today that are based on outright discrimination and hate, this decision will fade away once the Swiss people realize how silly it all is. But we must remember it is not the system of democracy that is to be blamed but those that are using it.”

Anthony ChaseOn Visibly Dangerous Silliness
by Anthony Chase

"If I am right that what is really at stake here is freedom of expression, then this connects quite logically to Ramadan’s call for a response that involves greater visibility for Muslims. In human rights terms he is arguing that, rather than shrinking away from “provoking” attacks, freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is only protected if it is paired with freedom of opinion and expression—including the right to visibly express an identity via symbols such as a minaret."

Kurt MillsOf Minarets, Headscarves, and Cartoons
by Kurt Mills

"Ramadan puts minarets, head scarves, and Danish cartoons all into one anti-Muslim basket. I would argue that, looking beyond the apparent symbolism, we need to recognize that each situation is different and, while the sentiments behind some of the apparent anti-Muslim actions appear identical, they demand different understandings and responses."


Anna TalbotMinarets Vote Compromises Human Rights for Everyone
by Anna Talbot

“This referendum ultimately points to a failure of leadership. It is up to national and social leaders to help the population to understand why a referendum to ban the manifestation of one religion is dangerous. The structure of human rights law we have at the moment, while by no means perfect, provides a strong framework with which to ensure respect and security for all."

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