Monday, November 30, 2009

Switzerland Bans Minarets, Gets Bad Press. Israel Bombs Minarets, Gets More Military Aid. What?

By now, I'm sure you've heard about the Swiss referendum banning mosque minarets--a blow to religious freedom that is getting global attention as a blow to religious freedom. Here's the Associated Press:

"Amnesty International said the vote violated freedom of religion and would probably be overturned by the Swiss supreme court or the European Court of Human Rights. The seven-member Cabinet that heads the Swiss government had spoken out strongly against the initiative but the government said it accepted the vote and would impose an immediate ban on minaret construction....Sunday's results stood in stark contrast to opinion polls, last taken 10 days ago, that showed 37 percent supporting the proposal."

Governments are supposed to protect rights--rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom to live in peace and security. Often, though, it's governments that violate rights, and civil society that has to protect them. We're coming up on the one year commemoration of the beginning of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead," the multi-week, massive aerial and ground assault on the Gaza Strip. We're also coming up on the 2011 budget process, which is likely to include $3 billion in military aid to Israel. If mosque minarets shouldn't be banned in Europe, then they certainly shouldn't be bombed in the Gaza Strip. But while the Obama Administration is trying to re-brand the United States as more friendly to the Muslim world, we continue to send the bombs that are dropped on minarets--not to mention farms, houses, and fishing boats--in the Gaza Strip. It's up to us to end this. Activists around the globe will be planning actions in solidarity with the Gaza Freedom March from December 27-December 31. If you are interested in planning an action, email Organize in your Congressional District to end US Military Aid to Israel by clicking here. And register for the US Campaign/Interfaith Peace-Builders Grassroots Advocacy Training & Lobby Day, March 7-8 in Washington, DC, by clicking here.