06
Jan
10

the Swiss ban Minarets

Here’s an interesting article about a new Swiss law that bans the construction of new minarets, structures that are often put on top of Mosques.

This is thinly veiled attempt at discrimination as far as I can tell. The law itself is, on its face, neutral. It only bans a type of architectural component of a building, and  it makes no mention of race or religion. However, it seems clear that that law is racially motivated. Why ban such structures unless as a roudabout way of limiting the construction of mosques. This is one reason that our supreme court often takes into account legislative intent in assessing the constitutionality of laws. A law may appear facially neutral but disproportionately affect one group or another. If there is a disproportionate impact, then the intent of the law will have to be scrutinized. If it turns out that, for example,  minarets are dangerous structures prone to accident, then the suspicion created by its disproportionate effect will have been refuted. If there is no justification though, the disproportionate effect must be viewed as an attempt at discrimination.

This is not the first time that the Swiss have shown a strange penchant for leveraging democracy for discriminatory ends. I was shocked to find out recently, that women could not vote in Switzerland until 1971 (see here) and I think in one canton women could not vote in local elections until 1990.

What a shame. The Swiss seem to be so good at basically everything else.

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