Saturday, December 12, 2009

Targeting Geneva

A couple weeks ago, Swiss voters helped bring about a constitutional ban on building minarets in Switzerland. So apparently religious freedom isn't covered by "neutrality."

A couple days ago the UDC representative who initiated the anti-minaret movement debated a member of Hamas on Al Jazeera. I wasn't able to watch, and I haven't been able to find a transcript. But I've got to imagine there are some gems in that debate.

While the Swiss I've spoken with are disgusted with the motion, a few are even morespooked by the idea that the new law and the recent debate will turn terrorist eyes onto Switzerland. One of the people I spoke to asserted that Geneva would be the most likely target because, as he put it, "Geneva is the heart of Switzerland."

In my mind, a more accurate geographic metaphor would be the "cowlick" or "skin tag of Switzerland." So I asked why not Bern, since it was the the capital where the law was passed. Or Zurich, because they have a nicer airport. But he was adamant - Geneva is the most likely target for a terrorist attack because it is "the heart of Switzerland."

The comment reminded me of two women I heard interviewed on NPR in the months after the 9/11 terrorist attack. They were from the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois. When the interviewer asked them how the attacks on New York and D.C. affected them, they expressed concern that they might be next. "We're so close to the University of Illinois," they said. "And that could easily be a target."

I also remember receiving forwarded emails from friends in Salt Lake, convinced that al Qaeda's next target was the bobsled run for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

I remember as a kid thinking that a city had really come into its own when it got its own Hard Rock Cafe. A few years ago it was having a Frank Gehry building. Now, in a kind of perverse way, it's finding reasons radical jihadis should bomb you.


Mark said...

Better watch out, they might target Charmille Centre

Chantal said...

If the terrorists were paying attention, they'd leave Geneva alone. After all, it's one of the few cantons that actually seemed to feel some remorse over the whole thing (and one of the few that voted against the ban).

Why the Swiss wanted to invite this kind of terrorist thought at all into Switzerland is beyond me. Especially since it's not like the minarets were even a problem in the first place. I think about 57% of the population needs to learn to make friends outside their elementary school groups and then maybe they wouldn't be so fearful of us "scary" foreigners. Because really, this was a vote of fear over all of us. Boo.