“Turkey’s Erdogan Says Minaret Ban is Sign of Fascism” (Chen-ou Liu)



turquoise minarets rising to the western sky





“Swiss Minaret Ban Reflects Fear of Islam, Not Real Problems” (Der Spiegel)

“Germany Would Also Have Voted to Ban Minarets” (Der Spiegel)

“Turkey’s Erdogan Says Minaret Ban is Sign of Fascism” (Der Spiegel)

“UN calls Swiss minaret ban discriminatory” (Toronto Star)


Poem by Chen-ou Liu (see poet biographies). Read more by this poet.




  1. Terry

    What a beautiful image. It may be a metaphor for the rise of the Muslim religion in the West but I prefer to read it as a beautiful piece of art rising above the ugly world of religion and politics.

    Our haiku loving EU President Herman Van Rompuy is a huge opponent to Turkey’s admittance to the EU. He is very open and honest in his reasoning saying that the admittance of such a country would be at odds with the Christian Ideals and fundamentals of the EU.

    It’s the ol’ church and state problem again and if I were a one for conspiracies then I might make some wild, unfounded accusations. But I’m not, so I won’t.

  2. Robyn E. Kenealy

    **sad laugh** awesome call, Terry.

    While I was reading this fantastic one line wonder (the poem is as sharp as I picture the minaret to be) a firm recollection of the Springsteen song ‘Youngstown’. There’s a line:
    “stacking that coke and limestone
    fed my children, made my pay
    with the smokestacks reachin’ like the arms of god
    into a beautiful sky of soot and clay.”
    It always makes me consider a similar thing. Under all these things – class, states, religion, whatever, are people trying to make sense of things. I could never bring myself to write of religion entirely. I’m a non-believer myself, but I frequently see that struggle to order the world into meaning as producing much beauty. It’s just that then it becomes “objective” and gets oppostional and it all gets, well, very sad. Did you hear the Catholic church has accepted Karl Marx now?

    Sometimes I think about that idea he wrote; opiate of the masses.

  3. Chen-ou Liu

    “such a country would be at odds with the Christian Ideals and fundamentals of the EU.”

    This reveals his fear of the Other. The current pope once made a similar comment.

    Ideologies, both socio-political and religious, aside, the core issue here is: how do we deal with identity issues when encountering “the Other.”

    Robyn , thanks for your thoughtful reply and for the lyrics.

    “Did you hear the Catholic church has accepted Karl Marx now?”

    No. But, Roman Catholic liberation theologians have accepted and put into practice some of Marx’s ideas.


  4. Chen-ou Liu

    For anyone who is interested in this news, the following is a good analytical piece:

    Europe’s Minaret Moment (New York Times)
    By Ross Douthat

    If the more perfect union promised by the Lisbon Treaty is
    the European elite’s greatest triumph, the failure to
    integrate Muslim immigrants represents its greatest failure.


  5. Bill Kenney

    A horizontal haiku about minarets: How unexpected! And effective.

  6. Chen-ou LIu

    Bill, glad you see that. Thanks for your discerning eye for my poem.


  7. Robyn E. Kenealy

    Oh! I didn’t see that! The horozontal, I mean. That’s really brilliant!

    Do you think it’s necessary that a categorical ordering of the world (through religion, or science or even anything) necessarily produces a fear whatever is made other by that process? I’m trying to work this out, because I sometimes think that it does.

  8. Chen-ou Liu

    Robyn, do you think a categorical ordering of the world (through religion, or science or even anything) is possible? Even if it is ideologically possible, this kind of rigid framework for thinking only creates evasion, illusion, confusion, and eventually, FEAR!

    The cheapest and quickest way to deal with one’s fear is to resort to violence, verbally and physically.

    Nice to talk with you.


  9. Editor

    I think that is what Robyn was saying – is it possible to produce a categorical framework (given that presently it is near impossible to understand, or “be” in, the world without some form of categorical ordering) without producing fear of the other. I think that maybe it is possible. Categories are not necessarily the problem, from my perspective, but the way we USE and ABUSE categories. Blaming the category itself gives language too much power in some senses. But, on the other hand, I do believe that the structure of language plays a large part in the way we understand the world.

    Also – I am not so sure that categories (which, for me, can be reduced to words in some senses) PRODUCED fear. I think that this fear was manufactured by misuse of categories.

    I agree that this world promotes dealing with fear through violence, but it is not the cheapest way to deal with it, surely. I mean, in Afghanistan, for instance, I don’t think it has been been “cheaper” to wage war for 20 odd years (if we go back to George senior) than not to. But I do agree that fear leads to hate which leads to violence.

    Any thoughts?

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