Swiss politician slammed for objecting to Christian ads

Swiss politician slammed for objecting to Christian ads September 2, 2018

Mohamed Hamdaoui, inset, a journalist and left-wing Social Democratic Party representative for the city of Biel and the Bern cantonal parliament, recently ruffled Christian feathers when he posted a picture on his Facebook page of a religious slogan on the side of a public transport vehicle.
He said he was really angry and:

I feel my fight for secularism will grow.

Hamdaoui, according to this report:

Is not in the habit of staying silent. He is well known in French-speaking Switzerland for his criticisms of Islamist movements, in Switzerland and elsewhere.

This, of course, has not endeared him to hardline Muslims, but his criticism of the public transport ads has now put him at odds with Christian fanatics, in particular with the the Egerkingen Committee, an outfit ressponsible for the successful initiative against the construction of new minarets, approved by Swiss citizens in 2009.
The committee said in a Facebook post:

The Muslim Social Democratic city councillor wants to ban Christian ads from public spaces. Recognise the signal: this is how infiltration begins.

The committee later retracted its post and apologised to Hamdaoui. But, according to this report (in French) he said he is not prepared to turn the other cheek and intends to sue the Egerkingen Committee for defamation and incitement to racial hatred.
Hamdaoui also received a lot of flack on social media sites for the opposition to the Christian campaign, but the Socialist party of Biel in Bienne is standing by him. It denounced the committee’s message, which it said incited “hatred and deceit” against an elected official, known throughout Switzerland for his stance against all religious fundamentalism, whatever its stripe.
The agency that placed the ads – Agency C – said:

We denounce the hateful comments against anyone who criticises our campaigns. On the other hand, we understand that many inhabitants of our country are saddened by the declarations of this politician, because of their attachment to the Bible and the hope it offers.

Agency C, which has organised and financed such campaigns across Switzerland for the past 20 years, rejects the accusation of proselytising. Its President, Peter Stucki, said in a written statement:

Agency C has set itself a mission of making known the riches contained in the Bible. None of our campaigns recruit anyone for a movement or religious community.

Is the campaign so innocent? Certainly not, says Philippe Borgeaud, a religious historian at the University of Geneva:

By posting ‘May the Lord bless you’, the display does not invite reflection, but manifests action toward its viewers. Personally, I find it unbearable. It’s like a witch cast a spell on me.

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  • AgentCormac

    ‘Agency C has set itself a mission of making known the riches contained in the Bible. None of our campaigns recruit anyone for a movement or religious community.’
    A non sequitur if ever I saw one. And just for the record, I’m happy to confirm that Agency C has nothing whatsoever to do with Agent C.

  • barriejohn

    [T]his is how infiltration begins.
    I’m glad that they retracted that remark, but it shows how twisted their thinking is. I don’t like the ads either, but if they are paid for it’s difficult to see upon what grounds they can be banned. Christians would ask where the direct link is with homophobia etc., though we might be aware of it. And as for having nothing to do with “recruitment”, here’s a comment appended to the Facebook article:
    The Christian faith involves a mission. It says, “Therefore go and make ALL nations my disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
    Hoist with their own petard, I think!

  • AgentCormac

    Apologies for going OT, but I thought this was a very interesting article about the influence which Ratty – you know, the pope who quit god’s job – still apparently has on the vatican.

  • StephenJP

    “Our attachment to the Bible and the hope it offers”.
    “Making known the riches contained in the Bible”.
    Sure signs that the writers have never read the Bible in its entirety.
    AC, whenever I see Pope Bennie’s name, I am reminded that he was the man who denied Thomas Thompson his PhD from the University of Tubingen, and made sure he could never get an academic post in a theology department worldwide, for having the temerity to suggest that the stories in the OT were not literally true: Ratzinger is a nasty old man.

  • Bubblecar

    If we’re going to applaud atheist messages on buses, it would seem consistent to tolerate religious messages, as long as they’re not sexist, racist, homophobic etc.
    A bit of “live & let live” might be needed in this case. No-one is likely to be converted to religidiocy by a message on a bus.

  • L.Long

    The problem with ‘they paid so it is OK’ is that if we pay we are still refuse as the word atheist pisses off enough of the majority to scare the crap out of sellers! This is how penetration of power into government happens.
    Constitutional law is twisted or ignored!

  • 1859

    Are the Swiss railways owned and run by the Swiss state? If so what is the Swiss State doing promoting a religion on the sides of its trains? Would they allow an atheist message I wonder? But really how crass can you get – having to advertise your god on the side of a bus or train? What a picture that would make – a train with ‘May the lord bless you’ emblazoned on the side of a carriage as it plunges down a ravine killing everyone inside, because, as we all know, trains do sometimes leave the rails.

  • sailor1031

    Bit of a quandary what? with the christain doG requiring the whole world to be converted to his kittle scam amd the muslim doG requiring world conquest in his name, what’s a body s’posed to do? get rid of religion altogether perhaps?

  • sailor1031

    Little, Little, Little…..

  • sailor1031

    @StephenJP: yes and if Frankie had any balls at all he’d sentence the rattenfaenger to a lifetime of silent contemplation of his sins, never to appear, still less speak in public. OTOH assassination might be better all round. Where’s Cardinal Marcinkus when you need him?

  • Laura Roberts

    I honestly don’t know the nuances of Swiss law, but if these are indeed publicly supported buses, then in my opinion NO political or religious messages should appear, period. Messages promoting tourism, public transportation, public health, art exhibits, music concerts etc., seem like appropriate, secular topics.