SWISS WATCH

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Daniel Pipes, di­rec­tor of the Philadel­phia-based Mid­dle East Fo­rum, con­tin­ues to mull over the re­cent Swiss ref­er­en­dum that bans minarets — the ar­chi­tec­turally dis­tin­guished spires next to mosques — within the quaint his­tor­i­cal towns of the re­gion.

“I see the ref­er­en­dum as con­se­quen­tial, and well so be­yond Swiss bor­ders,” Mr. Pipes says. “It raises del­i­cate is­sues of rec­i­proc­ity in Mus­lim-Chris­tian re­la­tions. A few ex­am­ples: When Our Lady of the Rosary, Qatar’s first-ever church, opened in 2008, it did so mi­nus cross, bell, dome, steeple, or sign­board.”

Fa­ther Tom Ven­era­cion ex­plained that his church in­tended “to be dis­creet be­cause we don’t want to in­flame any sen­si­tiv­i­ties.”

Mr. Pipes also cited Chris­tians in the Egyp­tian town of Na­zlet al-Badra­man, who won per­mis­sion in Oc­to­ber to re­store the Mar-Gir­gis Church and were later at­tacked by lo­cal Mus­lims.

“The sit­u­a­tion for Copts is so bad, they have re­verted to build­ing se­cret churches,” he says of the Chris­tians in Egypt. “Why, the Catholic Church and oth­ers are ask­ing, should Chris­tian suf­fer such in­dig­ni­ties while Mus­lims en­joy full rights in his­tor­i­cally Chris­tian coun­tries? The Swiss vote fits into this new spirit.”

Big noise, small re­marks, whistle­blow­ing to jharper@ wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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