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.