Muslim leaders distance themselves from call to change ‘offensive’ Swiss flag

A SUGGESTION that the Swiss flag, with its prominent cross, should be replaced with one less likely to offend non-Christians has been dismissed as “wrong and counterproductive” by an Islamic group in that country.

The proposal, which is said here to have caused unwelcome tensions between the Swiss majority and the country’s five percent Muslim minority, was made by Christian multi-culturalist, Ivica Petrusic, Vice President of an immigrant association Secondos Plus. We reported the original story here.

Ivica Petrusic

We now learn that Muslim leaders in the country have been quick to voice their disagreement with Petrusic and distance themselves from his demands.

Hisham Maizar, head of Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, said the proposal for a religion-neutral flag was wrong and counter-productive.

We don’t have any demands to upend the ancient traditions of other countries.

That’s comforting to hear – but his words appear not to apply to the Republic of Dagestan, where the authorities have been forced to open Russia’s first “sharia-compliant” beach, following bomb attacks on women deemed to be “improperly” attired.

According to this report, social change in the region has been fast and radical: just two summers ago, only a smattering of women swam in their long dresses and scarves on Russia’s Caspian Sea beaches. This year, public opinion in the region – the place with the highest level of terrorist attacks in Russia – decided to put an end to the “sinful” display of women’s bodies. The appearance of a rare tourist in a modern swimsuit elicits frowns, and a grumpy comment in the local language. One word is always clear: haram or “forbidden.”

Writing for The Daily Beast, Anna Nemtsova said:

The beach is proof enough, if any were needed, of the rise of Islam in Russia. It’s also a security measure to protect women from a recent, gruesome spate of bombings at the Caspian shore.

A burqa-clad woman on a Dagestani beach (Photo AP)

She cited the case of  schoolteacher Yelena Abduzhalimova who last July stepped on a mine hidden in the sand. It was the third explosion on the public beach that season, and one that cost Abduzhalimova her leg above the knee. The bomb was meant as punishment for women wearing swimsuits, the victim said.

The sharia beach has not gone down well with a number of women. One – Bakanai Huseinova, a manager of a financial company in Dagestan – said:

First, they make deadly threats for wearing a bikini; next they will want us to stop wearing our shorts and jeans, then ban us from going to restaurants and universities.

Huseinova fears that the increasing terror attacks will eventually start to pressure and control all spheres of a woman’s life – social, familial, spiritual.

Terror attacks, according to Nemtsova, have been escalating not only against bikini-clad women, but against all symbols of secular Dagestani society. Just this year, there have been over 200 terror attacks on Dagestan’s food stores, cafés, and saunas that sell liquor, as well as on religious centre and law enforcement. The attacks have killed hundreds of social workers, local deputies, police, high-ranking army officers, even imams. In addition, two school principals who spoke out against schoolgirls wearing the hijab were killed this year in Dagestan.


27 responses to “Muslim leaders distance themselves from call to change ‘offensive’ Swiss flag”

  1. meh says:

    “We don’t have any demands to upend the ancient traditions of other countries.”

    Until we exist in large enough numbers to make it happen regardless of what the natives want.

  2. CriticalEyeYayeye says:

    The way to solve this problem is to ban emmigration from any Muslim country!

  3. elainek123 says:

    Beware Brighton beach it may be you next.

  4. Cesar says:

    And make a course of national and western culture, including language, to any immigrant; not providing special rules to religions, if they want to live in a different country they have to abide by the rules of the country not the laws they want to follow. Deportation in case of crimes committed by those communities.

  5. Broga says:

    In passing: isn’t it reassuring that the NSS is so disturbing to closed minds such as long past his sell-by date, former but still irritating, Archbishop Carey? What gives me an added frisson of pleasure is the irritation being caused by Terry Sanderson. Telegraph types cannot understand why this insignificant person – that’s you, Terry – and his insignificant organisation – that’s us, folks – keep being asked for an opinion.

    However, I note some encouraging replies along the lines that Terry Sanderson, unlike their god, is a real person. Keep at it Terry. You must be pitching your comments just right: they get used while infuriating the censor loving bigots.

  6. tony e says:

    If allowed to take things to the next level they would replace ‘sand castles’ with ‘sand mosques’.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I bet he had a fit over this –

    The comments are oh, so predictable again!

  8. barriejohn says:

    PS The Mail have been informed over and over again that there is not a scintilla of truth in the claim that the BBC have instructed broadcasters to employ the terms BCE and CE, but have taken no notice whatsoever.

    PPS Carey is so convincing with his act of “perpetual outrage” that I’m surprised that he didn’t become an imam!

  9. JohnMWhite says:

    What on earth is happening in Russia? They were pretty brutal in dealing with Chechen rebels, now they are letting Islamic-related terrorism walk all over them and control what their own people wear? I wonder if targeting women is not so bothersome to the authorities as a province trying to gain independence.

    The Daily Mail article yet again leaves me shaking my head. It’s a dog whistle that even a deaf man could hear. The only reason they are covering the story is blatantly to invite condemnation of the move, and they cannot really prevent their own disapproval from creeping into the tone of the article (buggery, really?). How sad that the paper itself and so many commentators seem just plain angry at this last remaining punishment for gay people being taken away. It’s like they got joy out of thinking that at least sometime, somewhere, homosexuality was marked down as bad, and they cannot stand to see even that is changing and past convictions won’t count against those bloody sodomites. And naturally, the lowest-rated comment is a reasonable point that it seems unfair that a man could have his entire life marred by having sex with his boyfriend when he was 16 even if it’s no longer considered a crime.

    The number of people just saying “it was a crime at the time so they have to live with it” is just laughable. What shallow, transparent rationalisation for pure hatred and thirst for punitive measures against people for daring to be gay.

  10. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Thanks for making that available. I liked that comment, “It was a crime then, so it should still be a crime.” Just like all those soldiers, after years in the trenches and suffering from shell shock being executed for cowardice. The sentence often being passed by some bloody general who kept well clear himself. I suppose the innocent women burned as witches were also guilty. And so on… Or the fate of the genius that was Oscar Wilde.

    There is, though, in these people writing the articles and making many of the comments an arid humanity where warmth and generosity of feeling has been replaced by a need to condemn. They are, truly, emotional sadists. They want to visit misery on those with whom they disagree and they lack the imaginative sympathy that a mature person acquires. That they should be supported by an Archbishop stains him and his church.

  11. Daz says:

    Dear Muslims: multiculturalism means all cultures, not just yours.

    Just wondering, where are all the comments from the ‘it’s not the Muslims’ brigade who commented on the previous swiss-flag post, thanking Barry Duke for publishing this correction?

  12. JohnMWhite says:

    To be fair, it’s not as if Barry Duke went out of his way to point out that he made a mistake at any point. The ‘correction’ here is akin to a Daily Mail correction by simply saying ‘now we know’ after getting it dead wrong. In fact, calling people who point out something is wrong any kind of brigade is a very Daily Mail tactic. And then immediately the article launches into another complaint about another group of Muslims as if it justifies making lazy assumptions about them all. The Freethinker can do a lot better than become a secular Mail.

  13. Don says:


    There seems to be a handful of people on this site who think that when an innacurate and misleading article is posted it should be pointed out. Partly that is because this has an impact on the site’s crediblity when publishing accurate and important articles (bad currency drives out good, or so I am told). But also because it is just bad practice. We like to see ourselves as rationalists and skeptics; as such we are surely obliged to given even more scrutiny to stories which may reflect our views than to those which challenge them.

    Or perhaps you don’t agree.

  14. barriejohn says:

    It would appear from what I have read that only ONE “Muslim leader” has spoken out against this barmy proposal, though that’s not to say that others don’t share his views. Petrusic may well be a Christian himself, but Secondos Plus has Muslim members, and purports to represent them also. The fact that they have already campaigned in favour of a “multicultural” Swiss Anthem, and were planning “flag action” in October (reported in Aargauer Zeitung, and not on a “neocon” website) seems to have been conveniently forgotten!

  15. Daz says:


    I have been one of those who’ve pointed out inaccuracies and statements that I thought were unfair. That’s possibly made me unpopular with some people, though most who comment daily don’t seem to mind.

    In this case, though, the original story made direct reference to the fact that the organisation represents second-generation Muslims. I’m prepared to believe that they only represent the views of some, possibly even a minority of, Muslims—I know how easy it is for these things to get blown out of proportion. I am not, however, prepared to believe that they represent the views of no Muslims.

    I’m all for benefit of the doubt, especially given the way stories regarding Muslims do get hyped, but let’s not go too far the other way. They have their Phelpses, Perrys and Bachmans, just as the Christians do.

  16. barriejohn says:

    This site obviously has an “agenda”, but the matter is reported elsewhere as well:

  17. JohnMWhite says:

    Sophistry and semantics aren’t really important here – the fact is no real effort was made to highlight that a mistake had been made and now there are retroactive attempts to justify what was a simple rush to judgement. There’s no point thanking someone for a correction when they have tried to sweep it under the rug and jump straight to justifying the presumption that caused the mistake in the first place. This publication can do better and the concept of free-thought deserves better.

  18. Don says:


    It’s my understanding (and I could be wrong) that the organisation is intended to represent second generation immigrants. Many of these will be muslims but it does not claim to be representative of muslims per se.

    So far we have not seen a single instance of a muslim supporting this purported demand. The only muslim cited has called it ‘counter-productive’ which I take to be polite-speak for ‘bloody stupid’.

    So when you say I am not, however, prepared to believe that they represent the views of no Muslims. I’m not sure what point you are making.

    I’m not prepared to believe that no atheists want to abolish Christmas, but that would not justify a headline ‘Atheists demand abolition of Christmas’.

    I don’t think I am going too far the other way when this story elicited comments which were little more than bigoted grunts – CriticalEyeYayeye being a case in point. Of course Islam has its share – more than its share – of nutters and theocratic bastards. Barriejohn has already managed to dig up some sad git with a computer who apparently can’t get laid and who hopes sharia would help with that.

    Is that evidence of something? Other than the fact that nutters, bastards and sad gits gravitate towards the extreme ends of their particular poison. We already knew that, didn’t we?

    The Freethinker is not a trivial site, it carries a lot of history and tradition (some traditions are valuable) and it needs to raise its game to be worthy of that history and tradition. I’d like to try to help that happen.

  19. barriejohn says:

    Barriejohn has already managed to dig up some sad git with a computer who apparently can’t get laid and who hopes sharia would help with that.

    Now you’re making yourself look stupid. Aziz Osmanoglu is secretary of the Muslim Community of Basel (is that not enough of a “Muslim representative” for you?), and was accused of publicly inciting crime and violence. You can’t deny that Muslims in Switzerland are making the same sort of “demands” that they do in every society that they invade, and Second@s Plus are, as I said before, at the very least “useful idiots” here.

  20. Don says:

    Aziz Osmanoglu is secretary of the Muslim Community of Basel

    And a sad git to boot.

    (is that not enough of a “Muslim representative” for you?)

    Not really. Is it enough for you?

  21. barriejohn says:

    I didn’t say that he was a genius, but how can you claim that he doesn’t represent Muslims?

  22. JohnMWhite says:

    I think the issue here is that a sweeping generalisation was applied to ‘Muslims in Sweden’ based on an incorrect assumption, and rather than hold their hands up and say ‘ok, our mistake’, instead there was a sneaky correction made and then a scramble to find one Muslim or other to slap into the story in order to justify the presupposition. Mistakes happen, but that kind of reaction is pretty petty and undignified for a publication that is supposed to be about thought, not prejudice.

    When you say: “It would appear from what I have read that only ONE “Muslim leader” has spoken out against this barmy proposal, though that’s not to say that others don’t share his views”

    One can just as easily hit back with:

    “Hisham Maizar, head of Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland, said the proposal for a religion-neutral flag was wrong and counter-productive.” – Is that not enough Muslim representation for you?

    This would not have been an issue if a proper correction had been made and we all could move on, but the constant wriggling to excuse that sloppy mistake and continue to denigrate Muslims in broad strokes rather than the pointed efforts that should be made at clearly dangerous individuals, makes you, Barry Duke and the Freethinker seem petty, vindictive and hell-bent on badmouthing Muslims. Fair enough, there is a lot in Islam to complain pretty loudly about, but the last thing we need is to give atheisms’ critics a pretty good excuse to label the Freethinker and its followers as reactionary bigots who don’t bother checking their facts.

  23. barriejohn says:

    Just because one person or one group says something you can never claim that ALL Muslims, or ALL Christians, or even ALL atheists think that way. The more I have delved into this, the more convinced I have become that Petrusic is the one who has been doing the “wriggling”. I can’t see how he can claim that these were his personal views, when he stated that Second@s Plus was planning “flag action” in October. What does that tell you? Either someone is not telling the truth somewhere, or a big mistake has been made. However, finding that they had already been campaigning – as a group – to have a multicultural Swiss anthem sort of pointed me in one direction!

  24. JohnMWhite says:


  25. Don says:

    I’m not that fussed about national anthems myself and I don’t even mind that ours still has that bit about crushing rebellious scots, but I just looked up the Swiss one and if anyone is suggesting a conversation about looking at it again I could see their point.

  26. Martin says:

    I once saw a couple of ladies in the full niqab riding jetskis in Malaysia! It was an amusing sight (apart from the brief moments when one of them was heading towards me, black cloak flapping in the wind like a bat out of hell). It’s pretty dangerous though. If they’d fallen into the water in their all enveloping sheets, such obsessive modesty would likely have been the end of them.