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Swiss overwhelmingly oppose referendum ban on weapon exports

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Monday November 30, 2009 01:37author by iosaf Report this post to the editors

A referendum was held in Switzerland on 29 November 2009. Three questions were put to the voters:

* a ban on the construction of new minarets;
* a ban on exporting weapons and war materiel;
* a prescription that money raised from taxes on aviation fuel should be used for aviation matters.
not really just about incoming minarets - the swiss have a few missiles outgoing too.
not really just about incoming minarets - the swiss have a few missiles outgoing too.

For the third time since 1973 Swiss voters were asked in a referendum to oppose weapon exports. The question which was bundled with two others had been proposed by a network of several pacifist groups. The other referendum celebrated the same day proposed by the far right saw a ban on minaret construction enshrined in the constitution. The Swiss government had itself opposed the arms ban arguing that jobs would be lost in Switzerland if the Swiss didn't continue to play a part in the global arms trade. One Helvetian wag put it rather succintly quipping that If there are no weapons sales, thousands of Red Cross employees will be unemployed and billions of francs will be needed to fund their unemployment payouts. Thus might we muse is the utility of the global arms trade "making a killing as always". ignificantly the decision by the Swiss to reject such a proposed ban will not be jumped upon by journalists and thinktankers as evidence of any new step in global animosity. Nope- they're talking minarets.
Weapons export ban rejected by voters
".....A proposal to ban weapons exports and other war materiel has been overwhelmingly rejected in a nationwide ballot on Sunday. Official results show 68.2 per cent of voters against the initiative and 31.5 per cent for. Turnout was above average, at 53 per cent. The proposal was launched by a broad coalition of peace groups and centre-left political parties. However, the government and a majority in parliament recommended a no vote, saying approval would cost thousands of jobs and jeopardize the country's defence capacity. It is the third time since 1972 that a similar proposal has been rejected by voters....."

Questions are being raised in Switzerland over exports of weapons and war material – and not only by the pacifists behind the nationwide vote on November 29. (by Urs Geiser - swissinfo)

"The government in its official information brochure for voters describes its policy of trading war material as restrictive, transparent, tough and not open to frequent abuses. Throughout its campaign the pacifist group for a Switzerland without an Army has tried to undermine the clean Swiss image. It has published a report by Human Rights Watch about the export of machine guns to police in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The security forces, which are fighting Maoist rebels, apparently have children in their ranks. The economics ministry has rebuffed allegations that it has blatantly violated international standards. Reports say the sale was approved by the cabinet, despite opposition by the foreign ministry. Last month the ministry also dismissed accusations of inconsistencies in Switzerland's policy levelled by 70 law professors. In an open letter to the government they criticised arms deliveries to the United States and Germany, which are both involved in armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legal experts also highlighted exports of war material to India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, despite internal conflicts and a questionable human rights record in Saudi Arabia's case."

"Economics Minister Doris Leuthard has repeatedly said Swiss controls of the annual 2,000 – 2,500 exports are the tightest in Europe. "The protection of human lives is crucial for us," she is quoted as saying. Leuthard speculated that the open letter "was not free of propaganda", but
indicated she would seek legal clarifications which will specifically permit weapons exports to countries taking part in United Nations peace missions. Simon Plüss of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), a unit of the economics ministry, added that the government last March decided to suspend the exports to Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But he said it had to honour valid contracts. "Deliveries continue for deals which were approved earlier," he said. Plüss ruled out business deals with systematic and serious human rights violators as well as with poor countries in receipt of humanitarian assistance. A ban on exports also extended to regimes stockpiling weapons, and those suspected of using the weapons against their own citizens."

"Jörg Künzli, professor of law at Bern University, did not sign the open letter to the government, but he points out that there are loopholes which allow weapons exports. "Sales of simulators, night sight devices or Pilatus aircraft are subject to approval by cabinet but they cannot be banned as such, only weapons exports can be stopped," he said. The proliferation of weapons is banned, but regulations can be sidestepped, according to Künzli. "High-tech elements are manufactured in Switzerland and then exported to a subsidiary abroad where they are assembled and built into a weapon." He also says it is relatively easy to escape the eyes of the law by sending construction plans abroad electronically.
Consistency However, there is no major difference between the arms exports of Switzerland and those of the European Union, according to Künzli. He mentions Israel as an exception. The Jewish state presently cannot purchase weapons from neutral Switzerland. "What is lacking is a consistent policy by the cabinet," he said. "In the past economic interest had the upper hand over political considerations." Künzli calls for a stricter application of the law and improved transparency to stop abuses. "The list of countries which are not supplied with arms is not made public," he pointed out. Despite apparent doubts, particularly among the younger generation and women, voters appear unlikely to follow a coalition of 35 peace groups and centre-left political parties, according to an opinion poll by a leading research institute."


resources on Swiss arms exportation

here's an interactive map where you can see swich bichs of the planet get smasched into schmithereens courtesy of the Helvetians.

.:. for surely the people of the papal guard and john calvin and dying with dignity know a thing or too about blowing up minarets +
they aint just about holy cheese, penknives & purple bovines.

the Swiss Law on Weapons export . German version.

Swiss anti army group "switzerland without an army!


the Swiss Electoral office for detailed analysis :

Wikipedia focusses more on minarets.,_November..._2009

author by iosafpublication date Mon Nov 30, 2009 09:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

For in truth there are no set plans on how a minaret ought look. The prophet (PBUH) left no instructions & to our eternal chagrin mixed with awe neither Jesus or L. Ron thought to fill us in (if even only a parable or go on the lie detector machine) how properly people should put up their dreary steeples and define a minaret.

Minarets came in later like.

In some places they are simply a high place like upstairs in houses with stairs or on tippy toe in a confined space.

There are as many examples of architecture attached to places of worship of the faith of Islam as there are bits on a swiss army penkife.


The referendum now delivers nought more than a slap on the back to arms dealers and a bundle of paperwork to the Swiss beaurocrats, lawyers and translators who get the awesome task of answering the question What exactly is minaret?

does it look like a tv aeriel?

stop the incoming or the outgoing? - flirt with it : it's an insight.
stop the incoming or the outgoing? - flirt with it : it's an insight.

author by Secularist - nonepublication date Mon Nov 30, 2009 19:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Silly ban on minarets....nobody knows what they're supposed to look like.Bit like "the prophet"what did he look like and how come people get so annoyed when they see a picture/image of do they know it's him?

author by Redrumpublication date Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think religion is a machine to rule and conquer people while the people have the right to choose what to believe. I am neither a minaret supporter neither a ban supporter but I think the Swiss choice was based on the Swiss xenophobic histeria and I am sure this is the start for a serious further intolerance towards Muslim immigrants.

This referendum was a trap for me. The rigt wing puppets would of course vote in the favor of ban while the left wing communists did the same as they are opposed to religion, but in the end who is the winner? The far right I suppose.

author by Edelweisspublication date Tue Dec 01, 2009 11:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think the idea was that, whilst the religion itself was ok, the territorial aspect was not. Islam presumably is not about the place you worship from. But the minaret itself is a powerful symbol saying "the followers of Islam have a foothold here".

I think the swiss, while not opposed to people having a particular religion (there are 400000+ muslims in suisse), were opposed to the colonisation of their well ordered country by islamic communities putting their stamp on parts of their country and wanting to implement sharia

This vote was a statement that they did not wish to be colonised in an insidious fashion by the culture that seems to surround the religion of Islam in many countries it currently dominates.

I think they might have a point.

A better point might have been made if they enshrined a new swiss law that demanded that people who practice Islam within the country have the choice of either becoming secularists or else paying a "Dhimmi tax" to remain practising muslims. That kind of behaviour is considered ok in the koran after all so it should not be a problem.

Everybody tiptoes around Islam for fear of reprisal so in the end it's often one rule for Islam and another for everybody else. When I visit Islamic countries, I respect their cultural norms (apart from hangings and stonings etc) and don't go there demanding they change to my way of doing things. I would expect the same courtesy from muslims who come to my country. That's not unreasonable is it? Same with the swiss I presume.

Islam by it's nature is a way of life not just a religion. As such, it's followers often press to have this enshrined in law. My view is that the law and religion should remain seperate. Judging by some of the awful stuff that happens under sharia to gays and women, it is not a good thing to mix the two.

I do think the vote on selling weapons by the swiss was pretty hypocritical and shit, but I also think there is some merit to the line in the sand drawn by the minaret vote.

author by iosafpublication date Tue Dec 01, 2009 14:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

ahem :- Edelweiss is the national flower of Auschtria not Schwitzchserland. But I suppose like wee clover is found in Britain and red roses are found in Connaught the Schwiss have Edelweischsch too.

I think people are missing an awful lot here.

It was not a referendum on migration or sharia it was a vote on Architecture & Arms. The result saw the Swiss stick to there support of a billion dollar (franc) arms trade and pass the first constitutional ban on architecture in modern history.

Allow me to point out that the Swiss muslim population is small, between 5% and 10% and that they aren't allowed to call faithful to prayer from their four minarets no more than a Helvetian can play loud music with the windows open. Urban and Municipal regulations & laws prohibit loud music & amplified signals..... especially in avanalanche season when everyone is very q-u-i-e-t. i'm sure the muslims would be horrified if an avalanche were to be blamed on Allah (pbuh).

I have on the other thread left a picture of one the minarets currently in Switzerland. My illustration as indeed my coverage of this referendum with its three questions and honed confusing propaganda is strikingly different .

Whereas most European media offered a picture of the minaret with a steeple (catholic as it happens) in the background with no visual references of scale allowing for the mistake of thinking the minaret was of the stature of any ziggarut of ancient babel - mine shows it is in fact a very very humble & possibly tacky addition to a simple building.

The truth is European muslims do not boast well built mosques or places of worship. They are across the continent confined to shabby buildings which are often below building standards.

I have above pointed out that nobody can define what a minaret looks like. That which adorns the Irish Islamic Centre in Clonskeagh bears a certain resemblance in my mind to the King Hussein II mosque in Casablanca. Then again maybe it doesn't. You'd have to know your minarets (perhaps as much as your national flowers) and appreciate the subtle variation between national styles & I daresay the Clonskeagh minaret is no more than an example of an "Irish minaret" which refreshingly departs from the tradition of round towers.

author by Edelweisspublication date Tue Dec 01, 2009 23:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Edelweiss is a white flower found high in the Alpine hills. It's not unreasonable to choose that for a name to post about something relating to Switzerland. Never said it was the swiss national flower. Always tilting at windmills and showing off iosaf. :-)

Minarets are less about the practise of your religion and more about territorial markings.
Nobody is stopping muslims practising their religion in Switzerland. They have allowed 450000+ muslims to live there which is quite a large number and speaks for itself. This vote is just saying to them in no uncertain terms that there is a line that you should not cross. respect our sovereignty and national character. Come here to live by all means but don't try to change our society much or we'll get pissed about it. Good for them. They should implement my "dhimmi tax" idea too and show muslims how unpleasant some of the ideas involved in their religion are too.

I'm not saying christianity is particularly great either, but the swiss have as much right to reject the nibbling away of their majority belief system by Islam as muslims in their countries have of rejecting theirs being nibbled away by christianity. And the "dhimmi tax" enshrined in muslim beliefs usually ensured that that didn't happen in previous times. And as for what they did to atheists? well...
In any case, "what's good for the gander..." as the saying goes.

Iosaf, before berating the swiss vote further why not try building a christian church in Iran and see how smoothly it goes for you. As for the vote about arms sales, well I agree, that was cynical hypocritical and indefensible (sic).

author by Maryam Namazie - Council of Ex-Muslims of Britainpublication date Fri Dec 18, 2009 13:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please find below a report from the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’s second Annual General Meeting along with our statement on the Swiss vote to ban minarets. At the AGM, we adopted our annual report and motions on apostasy, Sharia law, and the right to asylum for apostates and elected 11 members to our Management Committee. This information is now available on our website.

The AGM unanimously adopted a statement expressing the organisation’s concern over the Swiss vote to ban minarets. The statement said:

‘Far-right proposals to ban minarets are divisive, reactionary and in line with the 'Clash of Civilisations' agenda, which hands over 'Muslims' or those labelled as such to the political Islamic movement and denies the universality of the demand to live a life worthy of the 21st century.

‘Believing in Islam or any religion for that matter is not a crime. Neither is it a crime to have minarets in mosques. What are crimes, however, are groups or individuals using religion to threaten people to death, intimidate them, violate their rights, and discriminate against them. Society has to address these crimes and prosecute those who threaten or terrorise people - not ban minarets!

‘Political Islam is a political phenomenon that demands a political response. This response must include targeting the discrimination, abuse and criminal acts that take place against children in Islamic schools, against citizens in Sharia councils and tribunals, against apostates and freethinkers, gays and women who are killed in the name of honour...’

‘The Enlightenment didn't ban church towers in order to successfully push Christianity into the private sphere. The same must be done with political Islam.’

More details of the AGM at:

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