It seems a truism that inland regions are less tolerant. People who live on coasts around ports have been continually exposed to a variety of skin colors, religious persuasions, cultures, and lifestyles. Fewer people come through Nebraska than New York or San Francisco; fewer people come through Serbia than England. Insularity seems to make people intolerant rather than curious.
Which brings us to Switzerland's stunning vote to ban "the construction of minarets, the towers that typically stand adjacent to mosques and serve to issue the Muslim call to prayer."
The Swiss speak four languages and would seem a model of diversity, but it is also worth remembering that it wasn't until 1971 that they granted women the right to vote. These are not progressives.
So I guess one ought not to be surprised that the Swiss felt threatened by the construction of Muslim edifices. Muslims, of course, make up nearly 4% of their population and are obviously a threat to the country's laws and mores.
It seems to me, though, that the Swiss have got it backwards. Rather than ban the construction of minarets, they should insist that every Muslim household build one atop their domicile, making it easy for anyone else to see where they are. And once they've done that, I see no reason why they couldn't require Muslims to wear tattoos on their forearms.
If they want to borrow from the playbook of religious intolerance, Central Europe has plenty of examples to draw from. If they are heading down that path, they should know better than to ban the symbols of religious difference that could, instead, be used to identify minorities.