Anti-dhimmitude from the assistant bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, although of course he knows that the jihadists “don’t represent true Islam,” while also noting that trouble seems to arise when “the Koran is taught.” In any case, it remains a pity that those who, according to virtually everyone, represent true Islam seem to have left the intellectual and theological field within Islam to those who don’t. “Bishop suggests closer monitoring of mosques,” from Swissinfo, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
One of the Catholic Church’s leading experts on Islam says the Swiss authorities need to keep a closer eye on the country’s mosques.
Pierre BÃ¼rcher, assistant bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, tells swissinfo it is what goes on inside mosques rather than the construction of minarets that poses a greater threat to peace.
swissinfo: You say that relations are improving at a religious level. But aren’t they constantly being undermined by global political events?
P.B.: Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is a major challenge at the start of the 21st century and in recent decades the Catholic Church has made a priority of establishing contacts with other religions. Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II have said this dialogue is vital for the future of our society.
At a political level, both at home and abroad in Iran and Syria, we have always been well received by the various authorities. The difficulties stem from a very small extremist fringe, which poses enormous problems but does not represent true Islam.
At the same time we now have this initiative in Switzerland against the construction of minarets, which shows there is a certain amount of extremism here as well.
swissinfo: Indeed, this initiative is clearly a reaction to the spread of Islam and Islamic law in Switzerland. Where does the Catholic Church stand on this issue?
P.B.: It is essential that we respect the laws laid down in Switzerland and we cannot allow them to be fundamentally undermined by another way of thinking, such as sharia law.
It’s true that the minaret is a symbol for Muslims but it is not an essential part of a mosque and we should not get fixated on it. What goes on inside a mosque is much more important, because it’s there that the Koran is taught and where you can have people stepping out of line. It is in this place of worship that the khutba [Islamic sermon], which is often politicised, and all the anti-Western or even terrorist teaching can take place.
Do the authorities really know what is going on and whether it is legal? This seems far more important to me than whether you can build a minaret or not.
swissinfo: So you’re saying the authorities need to keep a closer eye on what’s going on inside mosques in Switzerland?
P.B.: Yes, because one needs to be aware that in Muslim tradition, politics, culture, society and religion are all entwined. We are touching here on a fundamental difference between two religious concepts and the slightest tolerance in this domain will be extremely damaging for peace and co-existence. It is because of this that mosques in many Muslim countries are coming under increased surveillance and the khutba is always monitored.