The Swiss get it

ZURICH — Lawmakers in Switzerland will soon be considering a bill that criminalizes forced marriage. Supporters of the measure say such marriages are “incompatible with Swiss culture.” Some critics, however, worry that the bill is less about protecting victims of forced marriage than it is about targeting Muslims. The bill goes before the Nationalrat, the lower house of Switzerland’s Federal Assembly, in the upcoming spring session. worldcrunch

Forced marriage is a bad idea. Civilized, compassionate people reject it. The Swiss want to make it criminal.

What has this got to do with Muslims?

Barbaric, backward cultural practices are antithetical to the Swiss. They don’t want such practices in their country. This seems sensible.

But, seriously, what has this got to do with Muslims?

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3 thoughts on “The Swiss get it

  1. truepeers says:

    In the long sweep of human history, I imagine forced marriages have been more the norm than the exception. The cultural particularism is in the ability to overcome a world in which women are traded in the production of family and political dynamics. Cousin marriage is common in much of the Muslim world because they have not developed the kind of culture in which nuclear familiies can cut loose from clan and tribal arrangemets via new kinds of trust relationships in “civil society”. Islam does not produce the kind of civil society found in the West – Roger Scruton wrote some good essays on this a few years ago. It is not alone in that, of course. But in Switzerland, Muslims happen to be the ones most bringing this to mind.

    • jaycurrie says:


      The interesting thing about the Swiss is that seem to be willing to say that “In Switzerland we do not tolerate this sort of rubbish.” Which suggests that the Swiss will do just fine.

      I’ve read some of Scruton’s essays and he has it about right. Islam is antithetical to civil society simply because it insists upon regulating elements of life which civil societies leave to individuals.

      As well, in Islam, as in various other Mediterranean and Eastern cultures of other religions, the idea of family “shame” centered around the obedience of women seems to be a vital trope. The idea that a family’s “honour” is enmeshed in the behaviour of their wives and daughters runs from Spain through Southern Italy and all the way through to Pakistan and beyond.

      The Swiss are having none of it and good for them.

  2. truepeers says:

    Islamism, which i think is a necessry term for pointing to the dominant form that Islam takes when trying to compete in the modern world, can be seen as an attempt to create a global Islamic “civil society”, at least a universal Umma or Muslim Brotherhood. But yes, it still looks to me more like a global tribe than a civil society – to the extent Muslim marriages can now be formed freely across old-world lines, there is still, as you say, a huge emphasis on the women (and men) conforming to dictates of honour. That’s because any global tribe (Western or Islamic) can only exist, or imagine itself, in opposition to unbelievers. Or, more to the point, founding an identity primarily in opposition to another belief, rather than, firstly, in reference to the universal Being of whom all members of society are equally if differently children, is not the way to civil society. In c.s. we have to tolerate all kinds of “believers” except those whose belief is fundamentally at odds with our (Biblically-rooted, if now secularized) basis for tolerance, i.e. anything that necessarily rips the c.s. apart. That’s hard enough to figure out – who is doing the ripping, the namers or the named? Maybe it takes a fair bit of hands-on experience to get. It’s interesting that a multilingual federation seems to be in the European lead on this.

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