Al Qaeda has been described as a being a part of a global Islamist insurgency. It is helpful to view the minaret ban with that in mind. It is thus unfortunate that the measure banning minarets in Switzerland has passed with 57% of the vote.
Insurgent/terrorist groups seek to provoke repression (violent or non-violent) of a constituency. For example, let’s use…I dunno, banning minarets as an example of repression. That constituency is then further alienated from the government/host society and support for the insurgent group increases.
Writing about more traditional insurgencies, Bard O’Neill explains:
[T]he insurgents try to provoke arbitrary and indiscriminate government reprisals against the population, calculating that this will increase resentment and win the insurrectionary forces more support. The success of such an insurgent ploy is affected by the nature of the government response and by the social groups involved.
This was the infamous Irgun Strategy. This is why Hizballah and Hamas fire rockets from residential areas and schools. This is why the Taliban fire on ISAF troops from populated hamlets. The Viet Cong did the same thing. Al Qaeda uses the same dynamic in a much more psychological way. They have made many believe that the threat emanates from Muslim communities in the hopes that the West will turn on their Muslims with repression of some sort.
Now the Swiss have banned minarets and Islamists there and elsewhere will certainly capitalize on this.
This is one of the key means used by al Qaeda to draw in recruits and supporters – particularly in the West. Leah Farrall has a decent piece on this over at All Things Counterterrorism:
To my mind the most telling thing is that this is yet another example of people failing to realise that terrorism’s efficacy stems from its ability to manufacture difference. This is the true impact of terrorism. It doesn’t come from the immediate death and destruction caused by a terrorist act no matter how hideous and how truly awful it is for its victims. The true power of terrorism comes from reactions to terrorist violence by those watching.
These types of reactions start of [sic] vicious cycles of discrimination, feed alienation and only end up supporting and more importantly legitimizing the terrorist and extremist meta narrative of a clash of civilizations.
The banning of minarets in Switzerland – a country with only four minarets – feeds into one of the uglier Islamist propaganda pieces and makes a mockery of the practice of religious freedom, which is guaranteed by the Swiss Constitution. Al Qaeda and some other Islamist groups promote the narrative that the West is engaged in a War on Islam and that we are a bunch of lousy Zionist-Crusaders who hate Muslims simply because they are Muslims.
They do not need to be right to successfully promote this narrative and foster false grievances, but it certainly helps them out when they can point to the reality of a Western country proscribing the religious practices of Muslims.
One of the authors of the bill claims that the minaret ‘is a political symbol against integration; a symbol more of segregation, and first of all, a symbol to try to introduce Sharia law parallel to Swiss rights.’ While there are various Islamist movements actively pursuing both grassroots and top-down strategies to institute aspects of Islamic law in the West, minarets on mosques have nothing to do with this. The ban will only serve as further hindrance to integration and strengthen the influence of the Islamist narrative, accomplishing the exact opposite of what it was intended for.