Brace yourself for a visceral tale of pointless escalation and buffoonery. Imagine that you are the son of a powerful head of state in Country A. You have been born into a world of extensive avarice and political influence. The world is your oyster. In 2004, whilst barreling down the Parisian Champs-lysées, you are apprehended by a couple of France’s finest. Your bodyguards, after attacking the flatfoots, are taken into custody. A year later, a French court convicts you of beating your pregnant girlfriend, brandishing a firearm, and subsequently asserting the diplomatic immunity to which you have no claim.
Fast forward to 2008 where you find yourself enjoying the various luxuries of a first-rate hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. Well, not quite. You actually find yourself staring at the entrancing patterns visible through the ceiling of the jail cell you are currently occupying with your wife (an ex-model). You have just been charged with assaulting two servants at the aforementioned fancy establishment, and your father does not find the news the least bit gratifying. He goes on to arrest two Swiss businessmen visiting Country A, withdraw billions from Swiss banks, and cease Country A’s highly-valued oil exports to Switzerland. This understandably fosters a great deal of antagonism within the Swiss borders. In 2009, Switzerland votes to ban the construction of towers that are of religious significance to the people of Country A on the basis that as political symbols, their construction is unconstitutional. In addition to this farrago of affronts, each country has begun to deny entry to citizens of the other country. Switzerland has publicly prohibited the entry of 188 officials of Country A, including your father, while Country A has denied the distribution of visas to Swiss citizens. You are eventually released on bail, and the charges against you are dropped. Despite this, animosity between your father and the state of Switzerland has only been amplified.
This past Friday, your father introduced the term “war” to the escalating conflict, called for the people of Country A to boycott the state of Switzerland, and declared that any subscribers to his religion shall be deemed apostates if they collaborate with the Swiss. (It should be noted that this religion traditionally regards apostasy as punishable by death.) Hopefully, this string of unfortunate events now strikes you as absurdly disproportionate, given the innocuous origin of the conflict. A number of questions then begin to surface.
First of all, who are you? You are Hannibal Gaddafi, son of the famed Libyan dictator, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Switzerland’s ban on minarets (the conical spires typical of Islamic Mosques) was regarded by Gaddafi as a blasphemous form of intolerance warranting a retributive Jihad. The state of Libya (Country A) has engaged in this asinine game of one-upsmanship with Switzerland since Hannibal’s arrest in 2008, and Gaddafi has recently chosen to bring the conflict to a new level. At the most recent celebration of the Prophet Mohammed’s birth, Gaddafi stated that “any Muslim in any part of the world who works with Switzerland is an apostate [and] is against Muhammad, God, and the Quran.” This casting of collusion with the Swiss as religious treachery is significant, given the consequences that can befall an apostate. What Gaddafi qualifies as collaboration is fairly murky at this point, which could prove problematic for the Muslim citizens of Switzerland.
So where does it go from here? In truth, it’s anyone’s guess. Given that the conflict has thus far avoided any pretense of restraint, one can reasonably predict a grim conclusion. Gaddafi’s history of controversial political commentary additionally makes it difficult to separate his posturing from truly viable threats. For now, the ball is in the Swiss court, and their response will hopefully provide insight into the future of this imbroglio. The United Nations has spoken out against Gaddafi’s statement but remains fairly passive in the matter. Here’s hoping that Gaddafi only feels that he cannot afford to look weak, as many of his supporters looked down upon the surrendering of Libyan weapon stockpiles to Coalition forces upon their incursion. All we know is that if actual blood is shed over this matter, we will have to dock many points from humanity’s dignity reserves because of the absurdly petty origins of this dispute.