|my photo of a church tower |
claiming to be a minaret in a
parody of a public transport ad
Because the whole world became Charlie Hebdo this January, there was an increase in conversation about muslim extremism and it's dangers in Europe. One lovely thing to come out of the tragedy (and horrific/hateful sentiments expressed among the grief afterwards) was that free speech and religious rules and differences and similarities were discussed in schools. A report from SRF (Swiss radio and telly) showed that many swiss children know nothing at all about the islamic religion.
This didn't surprise me. As an American who has mostly lived in cities, the idea of not being exposed to, curious about or educated about different religions is foreign to me. When I first moved to Europe and got into a heated argument about the forced removal of headscarves from school children, I realized that I was no longer in Kansas (though I never had been to Kansas at that point - - I'm very poorly traveled.)
In 2009, when a referendum to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland was on the ballot, our nearest mosque had an Infoabend (Info night.) A friend whom I'd brought to a friend's seder the year before (and was the perfect curious and attentive guest, "yes! why on this night do we do these things?") , asked if I would accompany her to the mosque to learn. It was horrifically awkward and poorly attended, but a lovely and informative evening, and my friend (an elementary school teacher) was very pleased that she'd gone.
The ban went through and in a city that is protestant and that rings out with churchy reminders on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, minarets will not stand. Warning: R is going to be a very long post.