Tariq Ramadan views the recent referendum in Switzerland inserting a ban against the building of minarets into the Swiss Constitution, as a vote against Muslims not only in Switzerland, but across Europe. Those of a more tolerant sensibility will of course agree with Ramadan on this issue and will easily criticize the Swiss for “getting it wrong” by voting in favor of this constitutional amendment. There is no question that a constitutional vote on what is essentially an issue of local planning permission is, as Ramadan describes it, a silly initiative. However, this is also the nature of democracy as a system where society, including the flame-fanning populists, has the opportunity to express their views and desires, even if they are undesirable. We must also keep in mind that just because a democratic system has been used to arrive at a decision, not every decision taken through the democratic process will be acceptable.

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