Category : Switzerland

Anglicans to meet in Geneva to promote peace and justice

(ACNS) Some 35 members of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13 – 20 March, 2010. Representing over 20 countries and all the world’s continents, participants will learn more about making their voices heard within the UN system in Geneva. In parallel, they will be introduced to UN policies and programmes to inform their own work on peace and justice worldwide.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Europe, Switzerland

Anglicans to meet in Geneva to promote peace and justice

(ACNS) Some 35 members of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13 – 20 March, 2010. Representing over 20 countries and all the world’s continents, participants will learn more about making their voices heard within the UN system in Geneva. In parallel, they will be introduced to UN policies and programmes to inform their own work on peace and justice worldwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Europe, Switzerland

Bloomberg News: Minarets and Slender Arguments

If it did nothing else, Switzerland’s vote to ban the building of minarets drew attention to Europe’s identity crisis. The Swiss ”” like the French, or the Germans, or the British for that matter ”” are clearly worried about the Muslims living among them.

The Swiss vote (which may end up getting knocked down by the European Court of Human Rights) has succeeded in shifting the focus away from the social and economic problems of immigration and toward religion. To put the full weight of Europe’s cultural identity crisis on a slender spire of traditional architecture meant risking a dangerous debate, which has now erupted, and not only in Switzerland.

Previous debates about the role of Islam in Europe involved issues other than religion. The 2004 French ban on head scarves in schools was about the submission of women; the 2005 publication of Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad was about free speech.

A minaret, by contrast, is no more and no less than a symbol. Other religious symbols draw protest ”” a nativity scene in front of City Hall, say, or a cross on a mountaintop ”” but they, unlike the minaret, are not part of a house of worship.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

CSM: Swiss minaret ban reflects European fear of Islam

The Swiss vote…[recently] to ban the construction of minarets in their alpine country is rippling across Europe. The vote reflects a fear that some of the oldest Christian societies are becoming Islamicized, but is at odds with efforts to integrate the continent’s roughly 20 million Muslims.

Churches and mainstream political parties urged the Swiss to turn down the proposal, brought by the rightist Swiss People’s Party (SVP). But 57 percent of voters in Sunday’s referendum defied expectations that they would allow a new kind of religious symbol ”“ the tall, slender tower attached to a mosque ”“ to increasingly punctuate Europe’s skyline where steeples once reigned.

For those voters, says religion researcher Jean-François Mayer, minarets are a symbol of Islam and its potential rise in influence ”“ an issue around which many different concerns can crystallize, not just in Switzerland but across Europe. Using a tool not available in other countries, the referendum, Swiss voters sent a clear message.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

WSJ: Swiss referendum stirs a debate about Islam

An emotional debate over the role of Islam in Switzerland is heating up as a referendum approaches that would ban the construction of minarets on mosques.

On Nov. 29, the Swiss will vote on a referendum to ban the construction of minarets, an initiative promoted by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, who argue that a minaret is a symbol of Islamic intolerance. Minarets are tower-like structures capped with crowns; while the structure has no special religious significance, it is often used for the call to prayer for Muslims.

The debate comes in a country that has prided itself on integrating its large immigrant population and that largely avoided the clashes over the rights of Muslim minorities seen elsewhere in Europe. Business and political interests are especially worried about a possible backlash from the Muslim world.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

A City of Mixed Emotions Observes Calvin’s 500th

On a recent afternoon, stagehands prepared the Protestant meeting hall on the Place de la Fusterie for a musical, “The Calvin Generation,” to be performed there that evening. Springtime for Calvin?

Not quite. The religious reformer, best known for his doctrines about a depraved humanity and a harsh God predestining people to hell or heaven, would not dance or sing that night. But the show was one of a vast program of commemorations ”” theater, a film festival, conferences, exhibits, even specially concocted Calvinist wines and chocolates ”” described by some who have tasted them as somewhat bitter ”” of the birth of John Calvin 500 years ago.

“Our idea was to show Calvin so that people could see his personality in the richness of his thought and activities,” said Roland Benz, 66, the Calvin Jubilee chairman, as he watched workers preparing the stage, lights and costumes.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Other Churches, Reformed, Religion & Culture, Switzerland

Swiss Health Care Thrives Without Public Option

Unlike the United States, where the Medicare program for the elderly costs taxpayers about $500 billion a year, Switzerland has no special break for older Swiss people beyond the general subsidy.

“Switzerland’s health care system is different from virtually every other country in the world,” said Regina Herzlinger, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied the Swiss approach extensively.

“What I like about it is that it’s got universal coverage, it’s customer driven, and there are no intermediaries shopping on people’s behalf,” she added. “And there’s no waiting lists or rationing.”

Since being made mandatory in 1996, the Swiss system has become a popular model for experts seeking alternatives to government-run health care. Indeed, it has attracted some unlikely American admirers, like Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News talk show host. And it has lured some members of Congress on fact-finding trips here to seek ideas for overhauling the United States system.

The Swiss approach is also popular with patients like Frieda Burgstaller, 72, who says she likes the freedom of choice and access that the private system provides. “If the doctor says it has to be done, it’s done,” said Mrs. Burgstaller. “You don’t wait. And it’s covered.”

Read the whole article from the front page of yesterday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Europe, Health & Medicine, Switzerland