The issue began when new legislation — which passed with an overwhelming majority of votes — amended the Swiss constitution to ban the building of minarets on any mosques built in the future. Proponents of the amendment claim minarets obstruct the Swiss skyline.
This legislation, originally proposed by the Swiss People’s Party, is seen as backlash directed at Muslims in Switzerland.
Unfortunately, the only government, which decided to take action against the Swiss, is no other than the Socialist Republic of Libya. Libyan “President” Muammar Al Gaddafi has confronted this issue with extreme measures.
Appalled by the Swiss treatment of Muslims — though this amendment was passed via a popular vote, not government imposed — Gaddafi announced to more than 20 Muslim countries that Switzerland is “an infidel and obscene state which destroys mosques.” He has threatened to wage a fiscal jihad against Switzerland. He plans to cut off oil supplies to Switzerland and retract investments in the Swiss Bank — as he had threatened to do to back in 2008.
When asked of this “jihad,” United States State Department Spokesman Phillip Crowley responded with a comment that indirectly called Gaddafi crazy. Let’s face it, though, Gaddafi is beyond crazy.
This greatly offended the Libyan government — that is, Gaddafi — and as a result, Gaddafi threatened to terminate U.S. oil companies’ contracts if a formal apology from Crowley was not issued within a matter of two weeks.
Immediately after this announcement, oil companies like Exxon Mobil urged the U.S. government to issue a formal apology right away, arguing that Crowley’s remark could negatively effect their interests in Libya.
On March 9, Crowley issued a formal public apology stating that he had made “an offhand comment … not intended to be a personal attack,” and assured that the U.S. is still “firmly committed to the U.S.-Libyan relationship.”
It is absolutely indescribable how entertaining and ironic such a situation is. It took a crazy man’s threats to move the American Government. Yet, here at home, we beg our government to end its wars, maybe even direct a small fraction of what it spends on military expenses in order to heal our suffocating economy, but a simple threat to the pockets of oil companies is all it took for apologies and retractions to take place.
It is quite sickening what the power of money can do. Yes, we need oil; modern life in the U.S. is virtually impossible without it. But, we continue to place ourselves in a position where we allow other nations and entities, such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to dictate the basic way we function as a society. This has placed us in a vulnerable diplomatic position.
Crowley’s comment was not wrong, it probably shouldn’t have been a public comment, but the real issue at hand is the religious façade political regimes often take on. While Gaddafi is trying to protect Muslim traditions, he is also endangering his nation with his talks of jihad, war and oil embargos.
Yet, as estranged and delusional he may seem, he must be commended for his ability to manipulate the global economic system for meaningless advantage.
Sometimes all it takes to make things happen is a moment of insanity, or in Gaddafi’s case, a lifetime of it.
Dina Al-Hayek is a junior politcal science major and a contributing writer for the Daily 49er.