National Catholic Reporter

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A referendum against Muslim 'steeples'

 |  NCR Today

This week, in a major setback for religious freedom, about 57 percent of the Swiss electorate voted to outlaw the building of “minarets” in their country. These are towers near mosques, and in predominantly Muslim lands, they are used for the Call to Prayer, so it can be heard at a distance. Right-wing political movements in Switzerland apparently convinced a majority of voters that these minarets were some kind of symbol of political Islam, a notion that is patently ridiculous.

This is akin to outlawing church steeples, where the bells in the tower have often filled the same function as the call to prayer in a minaret. Remember the Angelus?

However, many places in the Muslim world are not open to Christian houses of worship. The first Catholic church (without steeple or even a cross) just opened in Qatar. Saudi Arabia, of course, allows nothing but its own form of Islam.

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In the arena of religious freedom … there is a lot of work to be done.

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