Switzerland accused of Islamophobia after vote to ban minarets

The vote to ban minarets in Switzerland warns Muslims to pay more heed to local sensibilities, while highlighting the larger problem of Europe’s failure to integrate immigrants, wrote the National Post Dec. 1 citing a York professor’s comments.

“This is an unfortunate exhibition of Islamophobia,” said Amila Buturovic, professor of religious studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “As a Bosnian Muslim I think this is another way of saying that Islam is not a European reality. But Islam has been in the Balkans for 500 years and it is not a European novelty.”

On Sunday, 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters approved the ban, a complete reverse of what polls showed only two weeks before.

In the interim, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party intensified its campaign, arguing the minaret was a symbol of Islamic political power and had nothing to do with the free exercise of religion.

Rather, Buturovic said, this triggered people’s latent prejudices – Switzerland, and Europe as a whole, consider “diversity an attack on national identity.” In her view, the campaign touched on European paranoia about being taken over by outsiders.

York grad is now teaching in China

In some cases, talented instructors, such as English Professor Derek Irwin (MA ’02, PhD ’09), a York grad, decide to move on before achieving tenure, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times Dec. 1 in a story about Lakehead University.

After three years as a contract teacher, Irwin declined a fourth year on contract to take a five-year teaching position at a university in China. While Irwin was a member of the faculty, Lakehead kept him on the payroll in the summers, allowing him to complete his PhD at York University.