"Ban Muslim architecture?" - The Week


Dezeenwire: The Week reports on Switzerland's referendum banning the construction of minarets. Switzerland's vote to outlaw the construction of minarets is sparking charges of racism," the report says. The Week

Posted on Tuesday December 1st 2009 at 8:40 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • rodger

    i think the swiss have every right to preserve their urban/cultural legacy by denying the right of muslims to build minarets.

  • Matt

    Yes, it seems the Swiss wish to control undesirable protrusions into the airspace in their urban areas. There is no ban on muslim architecture. This is their right…… but politically motivated racism and use of racist imagery in poster campaigns is something all designers (and other non-idiots) should be concerned with.

  • bebo

    switzerland is a free countrey, people should be equaly treated no mater what there beleifes are or what there color is…
    rodger..you should realy think about this away from the fact that they are (muslims)..but as amater of rights, the same way that every humanbeing has

  • rodger

    my comment is based on practical considerations. cultural intrusions need to be managed, whatever their type. diversity is a good thing so long as it avoids divisive behavior. i believe that switzerland should remain swiss and muslims living in switzerland should be swiss first, muslims second. minarets show a decided lack of innovation or cultural sensitivity so if the swiss want to ban them, thats fine by me.

  • isun

    with all do respect,NONSENSE!
    Practically Minaret is a sign of a mosque in an area which every muslim would be looking for, and having a Mosque in a non Muslim country will give the Muslims a sense of belonging and respectful brotherhood with the host society.
    Moreover, Architecture that doesn’t belong to the people doesn’t mean anything!
    therefore discrimination could clearly be banning people from having a place they can relate to and practice their religion thoughts and education the way they wish to. racism is in forcing people to change their identity and culture just because WE dont think they fit or are afraid of them!
    what is unfortunately happening in Switzerland at the moment and YOU my friends seem to support as well!

  • Samir Shaikh

    The use of the minaret in Muslim Architecture was for the following reasons:

    (1) To serve as a high-point in the mosque for the priest to go up and deliver the call for prayer.

    (2) To serve as a landmark and visual orientation. Since all of the houses and structures in Arabia and most cities were low height.

    (3) To metaphorically proclaim that the earth (signified by the dome) is controlled by a much higher power, towards which all mankind should aspire.

    (4) Using these elements repetitively establishes an architectural language that is uniform throughout the world; much like Islam, whose principles are uniform throughout the world, with local, cultural influences and nuances, evident architecturally through the various methods of dome and minaret construction and ornamentation.

    For all practical purposes, the use of the minaret is obsolete, since the call for prayer is through microphones in today’s world. The minaret remains as the metaphorical design element in Muslim Architecture, whose importance in urban planning and architecture cannot be denied.

    The reason for the ban on minarets is quite senseless, to say the least.

    I condemn it as an architect, an urban designer, and as a citizen of the world.

  • bebo

    rodger.. sure it is fine by you, because it does not concern you, and i dont think that swiss christians, or swiss jews are placing switzerland in second place… and if you know anything about islamic architecture you would know that the minarate is part of the mousqe not the whole mousqe.. where the prayer is announced…but it does not mean that you can ban it just because one ignorant compared it to a machine gun or whatever…” thank you for sharing your free opinions”. hope that everybody in the world can have the same right.

  • yimyim


    here is a very interest article, written by a practising Muslim woman.
    I will just translate the title “Primative traditions are to blame.” There are two side to every story. I also disagree with the verbot, but direct democracy has spoken. And also the SVP have been making these kinds of advertisements for a while now – and this latest is by no means the worst.

  • renato

    What’s the point in banishing minarets?
    First of all, it won’t send muslims back. Controlling the building of minarets isn’t migration control. Muslims will keep on having their meetings and masses together. If you look throughout the world, you’ll see many places have what I’d call “symbolic” minarets, like this:

    Second, it will get the muslims mad and with that bitter non-belonging feeling, which achieves no practical purpose at all. And it undermines that Swiss tradition of neutrality. And let’s remember Switzerland has a large contingent of foreign workers, many of them working for international organizations that should have the right to practice their religions in a decent manner.

  • jon

    From my personal perspectives, this issue in not about baned muslim architecture.

    The result is +- 55% of swisserland decides to ban the minaret. it is not regarding diversity or architecture. This is a racism issue!

    They (Swisserland) don’t care what the porpose of the minaret it is, what they know the minaret is a simbol of islam. They don’t want muslims population growing bigger n bigger is their country.

  • Maki

    The issue here is not if swiss support muslims, or racism. It is the same banana as how some buildings in Italy are not allowed to be built because of their too modern image for the urban context. The swiss prolly didnt think it will fit well in the city. Clearly, who wants a minaret view from your window?

  • varouzhan

    i think generally that the western world has baked off too much against muslims in general consider berlin it has worlds second largest musim turk population even more than anakara their own capitol thats rediculus and now they wanna take over swiss inch by inch i mean there are religous minorites at the moment liveing in muslim countries that have 2 obey their law and they arent considered half of a person in the eye of the law and then wen a country like swiss bans minarets muslims rally that there is no justice in west and stuff not lookin at their own countries judicial system and their unfair laws

  • Many thanks for your ignorant comments. You are clearly uneducated judging by the standards of your spelling and grammar. Please take the time to think over things before feeling the need to comment. You say that the Muslims are taking over Europe because Berlin is the second largest Turkish city. Did you also know that Paris, not Porto, is the second largest Portuguese city in the world? That Chicago, not Krakow, is the second largest Polish city? That Boston and London have more Irish inhabitants than any Irish city other than Dublin? The list goes on…
    Immigration is an international phenomenon and not merely restricted to Muslims. It is a fcat of life, which has been happening for centuries. You need to question why it bothers you so much. May I suggest Freudian analysis…

  • bebo

    Nettah, thank you.

  • rodger

    nettah, you miss the point.
    immigration of peoples form other parts of the world to a new country need not be a problem.
    importation of muslim beliefs and culture to a country founded on other beliefs is.
    quite frankly, whether you are muslim, christian, it doesn’t matter, the fact that anyone needs religion in their life these days is fundamentally problematic.
    as sarah silverman so comically illustrated with her video slogan, sell the vatican and feed the poor. if these arseholes in the vatican had any integrity at all, they would do precisely that.
    iraqis, iranians, egyptians living in swizterland, yes.
    muslim’s and their minarets, no.

  • bebo

    rodger: i cannot believe that you actually sat and wrote the last peragraph…and you still talking based on a political, religious perspective that opviously reflects the real cause for banning the minarets..not the archituctural blah blah…

  • stan
  • Joey American

    Can anyone who disagrees with the ban provide a list of Islamic countries that allow the unfettered construction of churches??

    What would happen if the swiss decided to declare themselves a Christian country?
    Would officially declared Islamic countries have a problem with that since they publicly made official comments on the minaret issue?

    Why isn’t there more outrage from muslims at how Islamic countries in general treat all things Christian? You can’t even have a bible or cross in your possession in Saudi Arabia without getting arrested!

    It seems to be a one way street when it comes to addressing European concerns about them wanting to protect their culture in general…

    Concerned American…

  • Swiss Guy

    The Minaret Ban was clearly a racially motivated issue which was started by some the more extreme members of the Right wing SVP political party in Switzerland. i followed the campaign that led to this. It has absolutely nothing to do with the architectural landscape as it is not a ban to building towers in an urban area. It is to be understood as a low blow aimed against all foreigners living in Switzerland coming from the SVP. The SVP’s agenda is almost 100% anti foreigner.

  • rasheed

    @ Joey American :

    Clearly u live on an outer planet to say what u’ve said. u certainly lack correct information.
    please go and google it, and see Christian population in the Arab World. Syria has 15% christians (around 2.5 millons), Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia,Sudan,.etc. all have christian population who all enjoy freedom of Religous believes that are practiced in countless numbers of churches wherever they live.

    thanks to all who expressed their openions and especially to those who were against the ban. :)

  • Adel

    I do believe that every country has the right to protect its urban context.
    But why was the vote on banning the construction of the minarets? they would have better called for a creative re-interpretation of the traditional shapes, a more contemporary design.
    and here is an example
    that is if the real reason behind this is design and architecture.

  • iva

    switzerland can do whatever they wants.. obviously.

    but it’s kind of disappointing to see, that such a “neutral” country turns out to be not neutral at all. and why are they so afraid of the minarets? it’s so ridiculous.

    this kind of ban would have no effect whatsoever to the islam world nor the moslems, the only effect it has is changing people’s view on switzerland.